Story by: Amber Worthy
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Hair Stylists or Barbers have a unique relationships with their clients, and that relationship can help get them out of a difficult situation.
Many signs of domestic violence can be hidden from the outside world, but it’s harder to hide the bruises on your neck or hair loss from your hair stylist or Barber.
This training by Partnership offered them with the resources to lend a hand to a domestic violence victim to help them become a survivor.
Constance Dawes-Shazier, with Partnership, says “that may be the only time that a victim gets a way to actually have that conversation. A lot of times isolation is a major in domestic abuse” and “that may be the only hour that they get to talk to anybody. That hour is crucial for us.”
The Partnership hosted a Cut It Out training for hair stylists and barbers on how to maximize on a hair appointment to spot the signs that a client, male or female, may be in an abusive relationship.
Kate Davidson, Coordinator for Domestic and Sexual Assault Response Teams says, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths around what causes someone to abuse a person. Alcohol, mental health disorders, things like that. While those things do definitely contribute… Alcohol is a great facilitator, for not just domestic abuse but sexual assault.” She says she still believes that person is making a decision.
She says that “there are millions of people in the United States that suffer from a mental health disorder or diagnosis, but they are not abusing their partners.”
Abuse that can be emotional, psychological, and physical and Kate Davidson says that stylists can counteract with love.
Davidson believes, “that gentle physical interaction may be the only time that person experienced a calm touch, a gentle touch, a loving touch” and “being able to acknowledge that power and then use that power to encourage, comfort and to soothe hurting people, not everyone has that privilege to do.”
Tara Rodriquez, a Domestic Violence Case Manager for Partnership and a survivor herself attended Monday’s training as well.
Rodriquez says, “never stop seeking help, never stop reaching out. You have to take ownership of what has taken place in your life and that accountability, the validation and reach out for others that are willing to pull you up, not push you back down.”
The hotline is available for victims of this abuse as they begin their process toward surviving the abuse, but the hotline is also helping families and friends with what to say when their loved ones need them the most.
Tara Johnson, who has been a stylist for 25 years, says “as a stylist we want to help, we want to reach out and we want to help people and so this gives us direction so that we don’t take their power away. So they now make the decision on what to do next.”