What do you do when faced with the reality of domestic violence?

This is an article that I never thought that I would write, yet I feel it has a very important message.

I recently had a dream client. You know the ones, she was bubbly, went with whatever the Bride wanted to do, was funny and talkative. She was genuinely happy to be there celebrating her besties special day. I wouldn’t have given her a second thought as I went home for the night except that while she was in my chair, I got the story of how she had just escaped a relationship marred with Domestic Violence.

Obviously there are two sides to every story and I only had the pleasure of this lady’s company for a few hours but her story was nothing short of remarkable.

She is highly educated, working in the health field and has small children. Of all people who go through DV, why didn’t she realise what was happening to her? Why didn’t she get out sooner? She’s a Doctor for goodness sakes, she should KNOW better! But it’s never that simple.

My interaction with this client got me thinking about all the horrendous things this woman survived and what do we do about it when it lands in our lap (or chair)? Are we trained to recognise it? Should we be? Do we have a duty of care to our clients to report it when we do see it? Is it our place to bring it up with the client? So many questions.

As makeup and hair artists we have a unique ability to make people look amazing on the outside and for whatever reason, our clients trust us. They tell us things that they would never dare mention anywhere else. The trust they place in us gives us a duty of care to look after them as best we can for the time we have them and respect their confidentiality and privacy when we don’t.

On 1 January 2017, US state Illinois enacted a law that stated that all cosmetologists must undergo 1 hour of training every two years on how to spot the signs of abuse and violence. In most US states you need to be qualified as a cosmetologist/esthetician in order to work in the beauty industry and going forward, this training must be completed to renew their licence. They will not be trained to report DV, but rather it will teach the artist to recognise it and provide them with information and resources to pass onto their clients should they need to.

But, I hear you say, how does that help us in little old Australia where you don’t have to be qualified in order to provide make up services. Well, that’s up to you. How much do you care about the people in your chair? Are they just a pay packet to you or do you actually give a crap about these people?

For me, I would take the wellbeing of my client over ‘just doing their makeup’ any day of the week. Makeup only changes the outside of the face. Without emotion, it’s literally just skin safe paints. Emotion is what takes those makeup skills I have and turns it into happiness when a client looks in that mirror and sees the magic I have created on their face. If this means I need to equip myself with the tools to recognise DV, I would… and I have already. My question to you is: What are you going to do about it?

Wondering if someone you know is a victim of domestic violence? Download the toolkit ‘It’s Time To Talk’ http://itstimetotalk.net.au/ or contact 1800 RESPECT

Chantelle is a Hair and Makeup Artist who daylights as an Executive Assistant in the corporate world of business consultants. She uses Hair and Make up as one of her many creative outlets, the others being crochet and writing short and witty blog posts.