Salon professionals from shops in Magnolia gathered for a one-hour workshop Monday about how to help clients with domestic violence Monday.
“It was great -- very informative and the main thing I got was that domestic violence is not just about physical abuse,” said Paola Castillo of Heritage Salon and Spa. “There are so many signs to look for. It’s not just bruises and scratches.”
The educational seminar, hosted by the United Way, and organized by Compassion’s Foundation Inc., was the brainchild of Ashley Talley, owner of Serenity Day Spa and 24-hour Tanning Salon in Magnolia. Talley is also a member of the United Way and told Monday’s participants it was a “God thing.”
Talley told a story about a client who came into the salon to get her eyelashes done but the procedure could not be done because her eyes were so bloodshot, and it was obvious something had happened to her. What had happened was that she was almost choked to death by her fiancé.
“After talking to Compassion’s we found out she was this close to death,” Talley said. “You couldn’t see the whites of her eyes. We wanted to check on her.”
Talley said the salon referred this client to Compassion’s and she safely moved with her child out of the area.
Lacey Ogle, victim advocate for Compassion’s led the presentation for Cut It Out, the Beauty Community Against Domestic Abuse. The seminar on domestic abuse for salon professionals is a program of PBA Charities. The presentation included an interactive discussion, and a handout of materials stylists can take back with them to their salons.
One of the materials handed out was a sheet where women can tear off a small tab of paper with the Compassion’s phone number and information and discretely take it with them. These are placed in restrooms around town and Talley said she was surprised to learn how often the agency must replace them because women are taking the information.
“It’s something they can just put in their pocket,” Talley said.
Ogle’s presentation explained salon professionals are in the unique position to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse in clients and co-workers. The salon may be one of the few places a victim, especially a woman experiencing abuse, may go alone. Also, because salon professionals are skilled and experienced listeners who are personally interested in those around them, many people suffering from abuse feel comfortable confiding in them.
The types of abuse women and male victims can experience in domestic abuse are physical, sexual, psychological and emotional. Ogle stressed that while most victims are women being abused by men, there are some male victims and there are victims in same-sex relationships. Children are also potential victims.
“Fifteen to 50 percent of women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetimes,” she said. “It’s important for you all to remember you don’t have to fix their problems, you just have to listen to what the client is saying.”
Studies have shown that it takes seven attempts before a woman is finally able to leave her abuser. Ogle said she was a victim of domestic violence and can confirm that is true. Abused women often feel their abusers will change and believes the promise that it will ‘never happen again.’
“They get pulled back so easy. It is really hard to leave,” she said. “Sometimes people think they may like (the abuse), but that’s not true. They are trying to weigh their options for themselves and their children.”
Talley said the important thing salon workers to remember is that they need to build up a relationship with the clients before they reached out to help them.
Ogle agreed and told participants that if a client shuts down, back off and let the client speak to them later. She said she didn’t want them to lose these women as clients because they might need help later from the salon.
LaDonna Miller, a salon professional from Serenity, said she once had to go to court to speak on behalf of a client who was being abused. The abuse was so bad that the man was posting pictures of his victim to brag about it.
“She had to get a restraining order,” Miller said. “She was very open to talking about it.”
The importance of educational seminars and public education for the community is making people aware of abuse and making them more comfortable about coming forward, Ogle said.
“There used to be a stigma, but now you are seeing people come out and speaking about it and I think that’s amazing,” Ogle said.
Ogle told ladies that some signs and signals that a client is receiving abuse could be bruising, abrasion or cuts in the hairline or scalp area in different stages of healing; bald spots indicating hair has been torn or pulled out; unusual, unexplained bruising; hair frailty, brittleness, or loss due to stress; inability to keep appointments and a partner not allowing changes in hairstyle, color, or trying new techniques among others.
Talley said she had seen a client in her salon come in with a black eye so bad it “made her stomach hurt,” and the woman explained that she had walked into a door frame. Talley said it did not appear that a door could have caused this type of injury.
Explaining away injuries by clumsiness such as, “I walked into a door,” could be another sign the client could be abused, Ogle said.
When approaching the client about potential abuse, salon professionals should believe them, respect their right to privacy or to refuse help, encourage the client to get medical attention, know when to refer and respect confidentiality.
“Don’t try to be a counselor,” Ogle said. “And as a recap of what to do, don’t talk about it where everybody can hear, this is little old Magnolia. Don’t make promises unless you are going to be able to keep them.”
Ogle asked salon professionals to not put themselves in dangerous situations and instead allow those who work at Compassion’s and people such as police officers get involved when the victim gets ready to leave.
“The most dangerous time and the most crucial time is when they leave and that is taking the abuser’s control away,” Ogle said. “They need to get to a safe place as soon as possible.”
One woman at Monday’s seminar said when she worked as a salon professional in another state, she was a victim of domestic violence. The woman didn’t want to be named but said she remembered going to work and joking about the abuse with her co-workers and said it would have been nice if the others would have paid attention and not laughed along with her.
“Today made me realize that I was in a worse situation that I knew,” she said. “A lot of things I didn’t chalk up to domestic violence. But I used to be scared to go home because I didn’t know what state of mind he would be in and we had a baby.”
The crisis hotline for Compassion’s Foundation is 870-235-1414. The office number is 870-235-1415. To e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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