Beyond Skin-Deep, Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

Dr Hannah McCann is back on 2SER with a recent update of her project, Beyond Skin-Deep Project that aims to look deeper through the lens of salon workers in the beauty industry and the role they play in self-care beyond what comes to sight.

The idea of this project came across Dr McCann when she did her research in a beauty salon due to her desire to explore her field in critical femininity study. After doing some interviews and survey, her research led to a finding of a more significant concern in the emotional side of their work rather than the beauty and presentation aspects of it. The research shows that 50% of clients confide in cases of violence and when that happens, most staff are unsure of how to help — and that’s what Beyond Skin-Deep Project is here for.

Beyond Skin-Deep Project is collaborating with EDVOS (Eastern Domestic Violence Services) in Melbourne to give a proper training to salon workers to be able to respond to clients accordingly. EDVOS runs a program called HaiR-3Rs — stands for Recognise, Respond and Refer — where they help workers identify family violence experienced by clients through verbal or physical disclosure when making physical contacts with clients.

“I had some concern that something like this would be placing an additional expectation on workers to go above and beyond their normal work,” says Dr McCann. “But when I interviewed people, what they really told me — overwhelmingly — was that they are already encountering this stuff in the salon and they just don’t know what to do most of the time and they don’t know who to go to.”

That pressure of being unable to provide emotional support cause workers to fret over, making them feeling insecure and burdened. That being said, this training will enable them to implement the 3Rs, along with creating an intimate connection with clients who need help but most importantly, so they don’t have to take it on their own.

InStyle’s Hairstylists Can Tell When Someone’s Being Abused brought up the client-counsellor-like relationship in beauty parlour and how the new laws about domestic violence awareness in US are seen to validate this notion. With the growing number of adults who are victims of domestic abuse in the US, the government decided to amend the Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding and Nail Technology Act of 1985 where workers are required to go through domestic violence training to be able renew their license.

As in Australia, Dr McCann can see the growing movement of related programs in some states, like HaiR-3Rs in Victoria, Hairdressers with Hearts in Queensland, and other little programs run through legal aid in NSW and in different regional areas, though they may encounter funding issue to run the training for free.

“What we really need, in my opinion professionally, would be that we need formal training much earlier on for people that are doing apprenticeships and at the very early stage of becoming a hair and beauty workers in your qualifications, getting some training from services like domestic violence services but also training for other things that people encounter in terms of disclosures,” states Dr McCann.

The rest of Dr McCann’s survey also shows 80% of workers that had encountered disclosures around issues of mental illness with 39% of suicidal ideation. “..that’s extremely serious, you’re getting basically 40% of workers at some point in their career having someone in that position and they might not know to refer people to lifeline, they might not know about local mental health services, they might not know what to say.”

For salon workers who want to help but don’t know how to, Dr McCann encouraged workers out there to “advocate within the industry for this to be a systematic training.”

“Talk to the group you’re in and say: this is something that I would like help with…I mean lots of people develop these skills just because they’re thrown into this social space and have to figure out over many years. But people start in this industry very young a lot of the time and there’s no guidance.”

To learn more about Dr Hannah McCann’s work, you can go to Beyond Skin-Deep Project or their Instagram account.

You may also like