Hair salons to help detect signs of domestic abuse among clients – The Irish Times

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There has been a 43 per cent increase in the numbers of women reaching out to Women’s Aid for support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 2500 hair salons around Ireland have joined a new initiative to detect signs of domestic abuse among clients and follow up with assistance and support. The partnership between Women’s Aid and the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation (HABIC) will see staff trained on how to identify domestic abuse among clients and offer help. It also aims to educate both customers and employees on the prevalence, nature of domestic abuse and support pathways that are available.
One in four women in Ireland in a relationship have been abused by a current or former partner, according to EU research. From this week, HABIC member salons will receive packs containing resource materials to support and educate teams and clients, including posters outlining the 10 common signs of domestic abuse.
In addition clients can discreetly access information via stickers displayed on mirrors containing QR codes directing them to the 24-hour National Freephone Helpline and the Women’s Aid website. Information will also be displayed in staff areas, to support salon employees who may be victims of abuse, as an estimated 88.9 per cent of professionals working in hair and beauty are female.
Commenting on the partnership, Sarah Benson, chief executive of Women’s Aid said: “Hair and beauty businesses in local communities across the country can play a crucial role in raising awareness among those who may need support, including staff and clients. When someone discloses that they are experiencing abuse, it can be difficult to know what to do.”
“Quite often people are afraid to say the wrong thing. Our campaign provides helpful resources on recognising abuse and how to respond in a supportive way. We know that with the right information salon staff can make a difference in someone’s journey to safety. We hope that women accessing these local spaces, who are experiencing abuse, will call the Women’s Aid 24 hour National Freephone Helpline.”
In 2020, 29,717 contacts were made with Women’s Aid’s frontline services, during which 24,893 disclosures of domestic abuse against women including coercive control were made. These statistics represent a 43 per cent increase in the numbers of women reaching out to Women’s Aid for support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Margaret O’Rourke Doherty, chief executive of HABIC added: “From engagement with Women’s Aid, we understand that salons may be the only safe space for some women, away from an abusive behaviour. Over the coming period, we will focus on supporting our members and giving staff confidence and resources to know how to respond when someone does confide in them.”
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