by Rachel Molepske, PBA Manager of Leadership Operations and Charitable Programs

We have all heard the statistics, but is anyone actually listening? Domestic abuse affects thousands of people all over the world on a daily basis, but the sad truth is that only a fraction gains the courage to speak up and reach out for help. No one deserves to be abused by someone close to them, but it still happens to men, women and children, physically and emotionally, every day. Many of us probably know someone who has or is currently being abused but we may not even know it because we don’t know the warning signs. The Professional Beauty Association’s (PBA) CUT IT OUT: Salons Against Domestic Abuse program wants to stop this nationwide epidemic. CUT IT OUT trains salon professionals to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse to safely and confidentially help clients, co-workers, friends and family find help through local resources.

The Ugly Truth

Domestic Abuse is often generalized and we only tend to hear about physical abuse in the media. Domestic abuse, according to Helpguide.org, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Abuse can come in the form of physical, mental and/or emotional abuse, which can quickly escalate to physical abuse. According to a survey by The Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners every day: In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. This is why it is incredibly important to recognize the signs and put a stop to the abuse immediately.

Abuse affects everyone around it. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that between 1993 and 2004, 43 percent of incidents involving female victims and 25 percent of incidents involving male victims happened in households with children under 12 years old. Witnessing this type of abuse can have a tremendous and often times life-long impact on a child. In addition, growing up in an abusive home increases the likelihood that a child in that home will be verbally or physically abused as well.

Keeping an eye out for signs that someone you know is being abused is incredibly important, but knowing how to carefully and safely report abuse can truly help save lives.

Signs and Symptoms

While bruises and other physical markings of abuse heal over time, the underlying mental and emotional damage show in various ways and can last a lifetime. If you or someone you know frequently calls in sick to work, has unexplained bruises or injuries, is frequently irritable or depressed, shows low self-esteem or powerlessness concerning their relationship, makes attempts to isolate themselves or continuously blames themselves for things that go wrong in life, pay attention – these could be red flags of an abusive relationship. AARDVARC.org, An Abusive, Rape, and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection, explains that many abusers make sure to not leave marks in obvious places, forcing the victim to try to act normal in public. Others purposely and frequently leave bruises on the victim’s arms or face as a way to keep the victim isolated and trapped at home.

The other side to the victim’s world, according to A.A.R.D.V.A.R.C., is that many are in denial about the seriousness of what is happening to them. They feel they can “change” their abuser by figuring out what they need to “fix” about themselves, and in the meantime agree they deserve the treatment they are getting until then. This is an incredibly dangerous situation to be in.

You Have the Power to Make a Difference

As a salon professional, you have the unique ability to build trusting relationships with your clients and colleagues. If you notice changes in their personality, physical marks, or a reluctance to talk about their significant other, or their significant other is always coming to their appointments, these could be warning signs. The CUT IT OUT program offers educational seminars across the country to train salon professionals on how to safely and confidentially refer domestic abuse victims in contact with the right help.  To find an educational seminar near you, visit cutitout.org and click the “Salon Professionals” link.

CUT IT OUT provides posters and safety cards to salons at no cost. The safety cards can be placed in restrooms, at wash stations or changing rooms and have all the information necessary to get in contact with professional help and are small enough to fit inside a shoe, bra, wallet or other discreet place. This is especially important in situations when the abuser may be present.

CUT IT OUT also encourages you to share your participation in the program with all clients – not just those you feel may need help. They may know someone being abused and can pass on the information to get them help. Visit cutitout.org for more information on how to get involved and to order posters and cards for your salon.

Get Involved This October

Raise funds and awareness this month by participating in the CUT IT OUT Give the Power Back Drive, helping give victims of domestic violence the voice and courage to speak out and seek help.

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, PBA and CUT IT OUT are calling on the salon community to come together to hold a fundraising and awareness drive in your salon to help put an end to domestic abuse in America. Participation is simple! Visit probeauty.org/endabuse for information, resources and to register.

About the Author

Rachel Molepske is the Manager of Leadership Operations and Charitable Programs for the Professional Beauty Association (PBA). PBA believes strongly that every member has the power to make a difference. Through our Charitable Outreach programs and partnerships, we seek to engage professionals in giving back to their industry and communities. Along with our Charitable Outreach programs, PBA provides our members with Government Advocacy, Signature Events, Education, Research and Business Resources. Visit probeauty.org for more information.