Recognize, Respond & Refer

Recognize, respond and refer are the hallmark teachings of the “Cut it Out” program.  The “Cut it Out” program is a part of the provincial government initiative “Neighbours, Friends and Families” ; which aims to create awareness and works to end women abuse.   The Cut it Out program was developed in Ontario after it had been successfully implemented throughout the United States.  The inquest into the death of Arlene May precipitated the development of this program.  Sadly, Arlene was killed by her intimate partner and had disclosed, a few days prior, to her hairstylist that she was scared for her life due to the violence that she was enduring in her home.

The  “Cut it Out” program focuses on the bond between a salon professional and their client and how in this situation the bond of professional and client is characterized by a high level of trust and intimacy facilitated through the use of touch.  The closeness of this relationship can lead to open and honest communication and sometimes even disclosures of domestic violence. Salon professionals are equipped through this training to respond, when women do disclose, with care, compassion and non-judgement and through providing education and assistance in referring to local resources such as Women’s Crisis Services.

Some women will never explicitly share that they are being abused and this may be because of feelings of shame and sometimes even self-blame.  Further, as one of the attendees pointed out, women may not even realize that they are being abused because the cycle of violence has become so normal to them.  Through “Cut it Out” salon professionals are trained to recognize the warning signs of domestic violence.  From the more obvious – bruises, abrasions on the scalp, to personality changes and different methods of payments, as well as changes in their patterns of attending the salon are discussed as potential warning signs.

Women’s Crisis Services partnered with Arlene Morell who is a hair stylist who has done a lot of research on domestic violence and was hired through Neighbours, Friends and Families to develop the “Cut it Out” program.  Together three hours of training was provided to various local beauty schools including Gina’s and Marvel.  This training is not intended to turn salon professionals into counsellors, but trains them to play a unique and individualized role in ending violence.  On October 7,  Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region hosted a meeting at Anselma House of about fifteen experienced salon professionals.  They attended a one hour training focused on recognizing, responding and referring when clients are experiencing domestic violence.

We are very pleased to be linked to the Cut it Out program and are grateful for the opportunity to connect with salon professionals in our area, so that they are better equipped to help women in our community move beyond violence.

Jennifer Hutton

Outreach Manager