by Asha Jeejeebhoy-Swalwell
Levels of domestic violence have skyrocketed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most people who experience domestic violence are afraid to reach out for help and/or don't know who to reach out to. Thankfully there are innovative projects around the world that have been working on educating dentists, hairdressers, massage therapists and small to large-scale businesses to identify the signs of domestic violence and provide support and resources to survivors in a safe manner.
Veterinarians in Scotland are been trained through the Domestic Abuse Veterinary Initiative (DAVI) to recognize when animals are being abused and/or have been involved in a domestic violence incident. Similarly, dentists in Scotland have been educated through Medics Against Violence ( MAV) to know the signs of domestic violence through different wounds that may occur on one’s facial structure including tooth, face, and head injuries. Survey results suggest that as many as 70% of domestic abuse victims wished that their dentists asked them about their injuries.
Hairdressers are also being taught how to notice the signs of domestic violence and address it in a respectful and educated manner through the Cut it Out project. The program is premised on the relationship that many clients have with their hairdressers that are founded on trust and confidence, making hairdressers an accessible support and resource.
Massage therapists are receiving online training through the American organization Nirvana Massage CE National continuing education training courses. They learn the importance of understanding this type of trauma, which is of particular importance as their therapy involves touching. They are also taught about the psychological aspects of domestic violence situations and how to meet clients where they are emotionally, physically, and psychologically.
Initiatives like the “No More” campaign and the "Make it Our Business" are providing training in workplaces to help employees and managers understand the signs of domestic abuse and how to safely support survivors. SHAPE (Sexual Harassment Advice Prevention and Education) also provides advice, training and resources for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace and their employers.
Although it is great to see so many creative initiatives like these, there is always more work to be done. All of us are in some way "bystanders" and many of us know someone who is experiencing violence at home and/or at work. We all have an obligation to become more educated about ways that we can identify and support vulnerable people in our communities who are experiencing violence. November 25th is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Please show these women your support by wearing purple that day and coming out to one of the many community events being organized by local organizations.