Hairdressers are often first to discover domestic violence

JEFFERSON CITY - October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Merrell University in Jefferson City highlighted that with their first ever “Cut it Out” charity event Wednesday.

Hairdressing students and professionals performed haircuts for donations to domestic violence victims, because hairdressers are often first to discover violence victims.

“Hairdressers have the most hands on with any client or guest that walks in. We’re the ones who see the client every four weeks or sometimes weekly. And if at any point we touch that client and it hurts, it gives us an opportunity to say 'we know where you can go to get help,'” said Betty Leake, the lead instructor.

The Professional Beauty Association started the national “Cut it Out” campaign in 2003. Hairdressers in the program receive training and advice on how they can spot abuse victims. Some of the signs are bald spots, indicating hair that has been torn or pulled out, or bruises on the scalp.

“When they are sitting in that chair and are getting a haircut or other services, a lot of times we can see bruises, we can see anything that would be different than it was last week."

She said sometimes an abused person will flinch when they are touched.

"Then we can talk to them and get them help,” Leake said.

After discovering abuse, hairdressers are urged to keep the information confidential between them and the client and provide the client with phone numbers to get help.

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