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Domestic abuse focus: beauticians as allies and referral sources

For a variety of reasons, women in Florida and elsewhere who are in troubled relationships often shield that fact from outsiders. They may be embarrassed. Alternatively, they might be afraid or simply view details of their private lives as being off limits to third-party scrutiny.

In some circumstances, sadly, that can allow domestic violence to flourish.

Even in instances where women (and, concededly, men, although myriad sources on domestic violence establish that males are abuse victims far less often than females) do want to confide in another party concerning family violence, they are often hesitant regarding the proper person with whom to share sensitive information.

That just might be a hair stylist, manicurist or other beautician that they regularly see and have built up a comfort level with over time.

An interesting media article describes a program that has gained traction in Massachusetts and could conceivably expand across the country, including in Florida, where domestic violence is unquestionably a problem. The program is called “Cut it Out,” an apt play on words that seeks to draw attention to domestic abuse and help curb it.

The initiative first started more than a decade ago in Alabama. Its central premise is that many battered women needing help -- compassion, a willingness to listen, a referral source for assistance and so forth -- might readily turn to their salon professional if they have developed a trusting relationship and that person notices signs of abuse and has been trained to encourage dialogue.

“We’re not asking them to become deputies or police,” says an attorney who runs a local Cut it Out program for a beauticians’ school. She says the main goal of the program, pursuant to which more than 900 people in Massachusetts have been trained over the past five years, is to get resource materials and information into victims’ hands.

A diplomatic and nonjudgmental beautician can often be the perfect conduit for accomplishing that aim.

Source: USA TODAY, "Mass. stylists taught to spot domestic violence," Denise Lavoie, Feb. 2, 2014

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