This is a difficult topic dealing with domestic abuse and change in appearance. There is a video which I encourage to watch but it is heavy. This has been emotional to write about, I have found myself in tears because of the research and stories I read. I haven chosen to leave out the graphic details I came across. I hope you find this information informative and insightful. Thank you.
This past summer I found myself mindlessly flipping through Facebook, like one does when trying to make the time pass. I came across a video, the video is an ad campaign from Bangladesh. It shows the heartbreaking consequences of domestic abuse and I immediately teared up while watching it. Before continuing on please take two minutes and watch the video.
According to the United Nations Statistic Division 1 in 3 women will have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Violence against women is seen all over the world percentages of women who have experienced intimate partner violence in their life time ranges anywhere from 6% to a staggering 68%. North America falls in 7-32%, Africa is 6-64%, Asia 6-67%, Europe 13-46%, Latin America and Caribbean’s 14-38%, and Oceania being the highest of 17-68%. The reason why the range in percentages are drastic is because less than 40% of women in most countries report or sought help, and less than 10% sought help from the police.
I spent a great deal of time reading stories true stories from the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria. Woman have shared their stories to this organization to help others suffering from domestic violence. I was unaware of some of the ways people would use hair to control women. From pulling hair in violent fights, to holding women down by their hair while raping them, or to using women's hair to control them emotionally. I was reading a story from this woman Maria, she says her controlling partner wanted her to look like his best female friend, he wanted her to look like her, dress like her, act like her. There are so many stories from woman who have survived abusive situations and relationships and I highly encourage reading their stories. They can be found at http://www.dvrcv.org.au/stories.
What that ad from Bangladesh shows us and women’s domestic abuse stories show us is what we’ve been seeing for years on television and movies. A drastic haircut shows emotional shifts, whether it’s the Disney movie Mulan where the lead female (Mulan) changes her appearance to look like a man. We see characters responding to traumatic events like in the movies Gimme Shelter and Frida where the leads cut off their hair because of abuse, trauma, and depression. These are movies, what can haircuts do for real people though?
According to therapist Rachel Kazez, a haircut can be an important part of the healing process. If a woman is involved in an abusive relationship where the spouse is controlling how she can wear her hair it can be healing and liberating for the woman to change her hair once out of the relationship. Or in a sexual assault someone’s hair might be used to hold them down, in the healing process regaining control over your own hair can be very powerful.
Looking at the statics it is overwhelming to see how common domestic abuse. Working in a salon I have heard stories surrounding divorce, loss of jobs, death, marriages, having babies, etc. I have cut hair off for women after breakups or a loss of a loved one. I have never experienced a woman asking me to cut her hair off because of domestic abuse, but in my 10 years behind the chair and the hundreds of clients to sit in my chair I wouldn’t be surprised if I unknowingly helped a woman out who has suffered domestic abuse.
In this research I came across a program called CUT IT OUT, it is sponsored by the Professional Beauty Association (PBA), this program is to help mobilize salon professionals and others in the fight against domestic abuse. Building awareness and training for salon professionals to recognize warning signs and safety for clients and colleagues. I am scheduling my training with this organization to help recognize the signs of domestic abuse, I plan on organizing a fundraiser for this organization as well.
A woman's identity and beauty is found in her hair and no one has the right to take that power or her confidence away from her. Strong women in my life have been affected by domestic abuse and I stand with them all to end the abuse. No woman should ever feel scared to have the hair they want.
If you are interested in learning more about the statistics please see the link below.
 (United Nations, Violence against women. 2015 https://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/chapter6/chapter6.html)
THE GEOGRAPHY OF HAIR
The Geography of Hair is devoted to share experiences and stories in cosmetology and how it has affected people, myself, or us as a society.