Last week, REACH partnered with Needham’s Domestic Violence Action Committee (DVAC) and the Norfolk District Attorney’s office to bring an event called “Cut it Out” to the Avante Salon in Needham. Cut it Out is a program originally created by the Beauty Community Against Domestic Abuse, and is “dedicated to mobilizing salon professionals and others to fight the epidemic of domestic abuse in communities across the U.S. by building awareness and training salon professionals to recognize warning signs and safely refer clients, colleagues, friends and family to local resources” according to the probeauty.org website. This event has been adopted across the country.
REACH’s Director of Prevention Programs, Jessica Teperow, facilitated the workshop for 10 Avante staff. Teperow opened the workshop by stating, “Not everyone calls the police, or will come to REACH, but many people will get their hair cut. And that’s why we’re here.” During the course of the workshop, Teperow discussed what abuse looks like, red flags that stylists may want to pay attention to, and resources available for folks who may be experiencing abuse. The conversation focused on how abuse may look different in communities like Needham, where much may be done by both the abuser and the survivor to hide the abuse, though for some, their salon and stylist may be a uniquely safe place where they can share their story.
When asked why so many clients open up to their stylists, the participants shared that “getting your hair cut is intimate. Your stylist is physically touching your hair, they’re outside of your normal circle, and their goal is to make you feel comfortable and gain your trust.” Teperow also acknowledged that the fact that they often stand behind their clients, can allow some folks to feel safer to share, similar to talking with their kids in the car.
Towards the end of the workshop, the group focused on how to support survivors. “The biggest thing that we can do is just to listen. Often this person in a relationship is already being controlled, and friends and family telling them to leave can feel like more control being taken away from them,” Teperow reflected. She encouraged the stylists to model what it looks like to have a healthy relationship with someone. She suggested using phrases like, “I hear you” and letting the survivor know that they will follow their lead. She acknowledged that while it is tempting to try to solve the problem for the person, we also must recognize that leaving may not be the safest option. It’s important to listen to what the survivor thinks the best options for them are.
To schedule a “Cut It Out” or other workshop for your community, or to learn more about how to support survivors, please contact Director of Prevention Programs, Jessica Teperow at email@example.com.