”The only safe space for some women” – Abuse supports to be rolled out at Irish salons

Kildare Now (Web), 15/11/2021, Mary McFadden

Domestic abuse support resources will be rolled out to hair and beauty salons all across Ireland. The initiative is the result of a new partnership between Women’s Aid and the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation (HABIC), which will see resources made available to 2,500 salons.

It aims to build knowledge of domestic violence and abuse among beauticians and hairdressers and to create awareness for salon customers on the supports available.

From this week, HABIC salons will reportedly receive packs containing educational materials, including posters highlighting the most common signs of domestic abuse.

Stickers will also be displayed on mirrors containing QR codes which will direct customers to the 24hr National Freephone Helpline and the Women’s Aid website.

The project also aims to educate staff on how to recognise signs of abuse, how to respond in a supportive way and how to direct customers to the helpline.

CEO of Women’s Aid, Sarah Benson, 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 24hr National Freephone Helpline for information, support and referral to local domestic violence services, when needed.”

According to Women’s Aid, almost 30,000 contacts were made in 2020, during which 24,893 disclosures of domestic abuse against women were made. Almost 6,000 instances of abuse against children were also disclosed.

They state that the statistics represent a 43% increase in the number of women reaching out during the Covid-19 pandemic.

CEO of HABIC, Margaret O’Rourke Doherty, said, “The relationship between clients and HABIC hairdressers and beauticians is one that is developed over time and is built on trust. From engagement with Women’s Aid, we understand that salons may be the only safe space for some women, away from an abusive behavior.

“Over the coming period, we will focus on supporting our members and to give staff confidence and resources to know how to respond when someone does confide in them. With a largely female workforce, we also want to ensure our members feel supported at work and can access the necessary supports if they need to. We look forward to working with the team at Women’s Aid going forward to listen to women, support and believe them.”

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