Cosmetologists have the ability to witness forms of physical abuse firsthand. When lifting the client’s hair to cut around the neck or face areas, evidence of injury can be seen.
By doing so, the students, staff and graduates of Empire Beauty School at 4806 N. University Drive in Lauderhill may be able to save lives.
“If bruises on the neck, scratches or cuts on the face, marks on the arms where possible restraints are used or any abuse on any exposed part of the body are noted during an appointment, all [Empire students and personnel] are trained and counseled on where to send that person,” Franklin K. Schoeneman, chairman and CEO of Empire Education Group explained.
On Wednesday, March 24, Empire, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held by the Lauderhill Chamber of Commerce, announced the launch of its national anti domestic violence campaign, Empire Gives Back.
Schoeneman, on behalf of the school, presented Women in Distress of Broward County’s president and CEO, Mary Riedel, a check for $1,292.
The money, according to Riedel, was raised by the students who participated in Empire’s Cut-A-Thon and will benefit Women in Distress’ clients.
Each of Empire’s 100 schools adopts a local shelter, Schoeneman said.
Women in Distress has been the school’s adoptee for two years, Riedel said, “and it’s a great relationship.”
Schoeneman said Empire learned about the program through CUT IT OUT, a non-profit program of the Salons Against Domestic Abuse Fund.
CUT IT OUT mobilizes salon professionals and others to fight the epidemic of domestic abuse in communities across the United States.
The program’s trainers, domestic violence service providers, teach hairstylists to recognize signs of domestic abuse and suggest resources to the victims.
“They are trained on questions that are OK to ask like, ‘I notice you have a bruise here. Are you OK?’” Schoeneman said.
“If you say, ‘I don’t believe you, this looks like domestic abuse,’ that is beyond unreasonable.”
What is reasonable, Schoeneman said, is to “hand someone the brochure, look them in the eye and say, ‘I think you may want to take this with you.’”
He added, “It’s simply giving them the information they should have.”
Earlier in the day, the Lauderhill Police Department’s Victim Advocates program engaged the students in an interactive session where they were taught steps to fight against domestic abuse.
Victims of domestic abuse are not alone in the process of reporting the crime, Lauderhill police Capt. Constance Stanley said.
“We have our domestic violence advocates in plain clothes; that makes it easier to relate.”
The unit also has a relationship with Women in Distress, Stanley said. “Our advocates can connect the victim with them within 24 hours.”
If necessary, Stanley said, the advocates will accompany the victim to court and offer referrals for counseling, especially if children are involved.
“Kids are victims too. It’s important for an officer on the scene to indicate if a child is present.”
Empire also offers scholarships to victims who need retraining, Schoeneman said. Often the person who experiences the abuse is not the breadwinner.
“If the family breaks up, they are usually the ones to have to go out and get a job,” he said. “That’s our way of helping out long term.”
For more information on Women in Distress of Broward County, visit www.womenindistress.org or call its 24-hour confidential crisis hotline at 954-761-1133.