Alaska organization trains salon and beauty professionals to recognize domestic abuse signs

Mannequins used for practicing haircutting techniques. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)

A domestic violence organization in Alaska is training people in the beauty industry to recognize signs of domestic abuse and offer support. The training, organized by Anchorage Alliance for Violence Prevention, is for barber and salon workers, makeup artists, tattoo artists, and massage therapists statewide. 

Training leader Erin Workman said people in the beauty and body-work industries have a unique opportunity to spot signs of abuse. 

“They work in an intimate situation with people,” Workman said. “There tends to be a lot of time to talk and to have conversations. They also see people’s bodies, so they’re able to recognize signs, physical signs on them, such as missing hair, or bruising or cuts and scratches.”

Some states require salon workers to complete training on spotting signs of abuse. 

Workman said sometimes a trip to a salon or tattoo parlor may be the only time someone in an abusive relationship can talk privately. 

“A lot of times with domestic violence, people are isolated from family and friends and other areas of support,” Workman said. “And so, this is a time where they might actually be able to speak privately with someone and get some support from somebody.”

The training will focus on identifying signs of emotional and physical abuse, how to talk with people about abuse safely, and how to direct people to resources. 

Suzi Pearson, Executive Director at AWAIC, or Abused Women’s Aid In Crisis, which oversees the program, said it’s really important not to push people in abusive relationships to make changes. 

“It’s really critical to empower a victim that it’s their voice that matters, that they have choices,” Pearson said. “So even if somebody declines getting services, that you still say, ‘Well, I know somebody who might be able to help. So if you need any assistance, I’m always here for you to talk.’”

She likened that kind of support to an open door someone can walk through when they are ready for change. 

The training, called “CUT IT OUT,” is free and will be held online Jan. 28. People can register through this online form or by contacting the Anchorage Alliance for Violence Prevention

Anyone experiencing domestic violence can get help by calling 800-799-7233. 

RELATED: Under a new executive director, Alaska’s LGBTQ+ health clinic is researching what queer Alaskans need

Rachel Cassandra covers health and wellness for Alaska Public Media. Reach her Read more about Rachel here.

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