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Op-Ed: Beauty salon ad a slap in the face to domestic abuse victims

This week bloggers discovered an ad from a Edmonton beauty salon featuring a woman with a black eye with the slogan, 'Look good in all you do.' The salon is now a boycott target of social media users.

In Canada 1.2 million people who have had a spouse, former or current, in 2009 had faced domestic violence. Between 2000 and 2009, there were 738 spousal homicides.
Two years ago Fluid Hair salon shot the ad that hints at domestic violence. The ad has been in place for over a year. Was the ad a piece of art as salon owner Sarah Cameron says or a campaign promoting domestic violence?
Cameron has released a statement about the controversy of the “Look Good In All You Do” campaign.
"In response to the recent controversy regarding one of the ads from our “Look Good In All You Do” campaign, we launched over the past year, we respect everyone’s right to their interpretation of what they perceive the message to be. Similar to music videos, works of art, media, books, the ads were our interpretation of a particular “art form” – we are a Hair and Beauty Salon – our business is to make people “LOOK GOOD”. Is it cutting edge advertising? Yes. Is it intended to be a satirical look at real life situations that ignites conversation and debate? Of course. Is it to everyone’s taste? Probably not."
Cameron went on to state that her city is Canada's murder capital. She also says that the media should be focusing on "dangerous areas, gangs, guns, other street weapons, or a sick justice system."
Cameron then states that if someone mentions the ad when they come to her salon they will donate proceeds from that visit to Edmonton Woman's Shelter.
"If survivors of abuse interpret this ad to make light of any abusive situation, we sincerely apologize, that was never our intent as there are people that worked on this campaign who are survivors of abuse. To the rest of you who this has so deeply affected, we truly hope you do something to help stop domestic violence. Truly honor the survivors that you are standing up for. Unfortunately boycotting a hair salon will not accomplish this," Cameron's press release states concluding with, "Media genre that promotes freedom of speech and expression only for themselves are hypocritical. Please interpret the ad as freedom dictates – that is your right – just as artistic expression is our right."
As a survivor of domestic violence the ad sickens me. Victims often are given a present from their abusers after an attack. Using that part of the violence cycle to promote hair services is a slap in the face to abused women.
Had the ad used a different slogan, one that stated no one should have to live in abuse, it could have been a benchmark for other businesses. Instead the message comes across that looking good despite abuse gives you a reward.
That message has been handed down from society for far too long. Religious organizations have told women to stay in abusive relationships in order to preserve the family. Law enforcement and the court system, in the past, told women that it had to be the victim's fault though their lack of legal action. Governments dragged their heels when it came to passing laws to protect the victims of domestic violence.
It's been a long, slow road in changing society's view on domestic violence. Abused women and for that matter abused men, have finally started to see changes that protect them. Still it's a slow change.
It's hard to 'escape' an abusive relationship. It took me 14 years and three escapes before I broke free. My personal story had no outward bruises, but my doctor knew from internal injuries. He stayed silent. Neighbours knew, they heard the loud verbal attacks. They were quiet. My son's pastor knew, I had confided in him. He told me to stay and work harder, be a better wife.
I received gifts after emotional attacks. It was part of the cycle. Attack, great times, attack. My story is the same as many.
Seeing the ad brought those memories front and center. I couldn't believe in this day and age there was no message of escape, no message that this was wrong. And that is why the media speaks out and social media groups shout boycott. Breaking the cycle means not being silent, it means shouting it from the rooftops that abuse is wrong. No gift from an abuser will justify their actions nor will any ad that appears to promote violence against anyone be tolerated by society.

6 comments

#1
Cynthia Trowbridge   Aug 31, 2011
I agree with what you are saying KJ. As far as I am concerned domestic abuse of any kind is a heinous crime especially if you have been a victim, your mother was a victim, anyone you know who was a victim in the past or know someone who is now a victim.
I know someone who is now a victim. She told me that during those times it is because she wasn't being an obedient wife. It is her duty to obey her husband and when he gets angry it is because she has done something wrong.
You can always know when there has been abuse because they go on a cruise or she can take a nice vacation with her daughters or some expensive gift. She always says on facebook after I thank my wonderful husband for the cruise, gift or whatever.
Terrible what she endures and won't get out even when many have told her to leave him.
I think maybe she feels it's worth it to be able to live the type of lifestyle she enjoys.
#2
Shawn Kay   Aug 31, 2011
@Cynthia Trowbridge
I agree with what you are saying KJ. As far as I am concerned domestic abuse of any kind is a heinous crime especially if you have been a victim, your mother was a victim, anyone you know who was a victim in the past or know someone who is now a victim.
I know someone who is now a victim. She told me that during those times it is because she wasn't being an obedient wife. It is her duty to obey her husband and when he gets angry it is because she has done something wrong.
You can always know when there has been abuse because they go on a cruise or she can take a nice vacation with her daughters or some expensive gift. She always says on facebook after I thank my wonderful husband for the cruise, gift or whatever.
Terrible what she endures and won't get out even when many have told her to leave him.
I think maybe she feels it's worth it to be able to live the type of lifestyle she enjoys.
Cynthia,
How do you know that she is staying with her husband and enduring his abuse purely for the sake of high-value gifts that he has lavished upon her?
Have you asked her why she stays with him?
Several years ago I worked as a volunteer crisis specialist for the crisis intervention program of a prominent hospital in New York City. The crisis program I worked with dispatched crisis intervention specialists to Emergency Rooms throughout Manhattan to provide emergency counseling to women (and sometimes men) who were the survivors of incidents involving sexual assault or domestic violence.
With domestic violence, many people do not understand why someone may choose to continue on in an abusive relationship. Most women would be quick to say something like, "I won't tolerate an abusive relationship. The first time he hits me, it's over." But that's easier said than done when you are on the outside of such a relationship.
One of the things that we were taught during training was that the abuse being perpetrated is NEVER the fault of the survivor (we don't use the term "victim" in crisis intervention because "survivor" is a much more empowering term).
When we would go into the ER to provide emergency counseling to a survivor of domestic violence we would let them know that the abuse that they are suffering is not their fault. Many survivors think that perhaps if they had cooked something or wore something different it would have kept their spouse from becoming violent. But such people are prone to violent outbursts regardless of what ever maneuvers the survivor takes to appease them while walking on egg shells. At some point they will explode and strike their spouse. Such people are ticking time bombs and need professional help.
As for your friend, I'm not exactly sure what the circumstances behind her situation are though I can tell you from my experience that their maybe a multitude of reasons why she is staying with him. Such reasons may include:
*She doesn't know any better and believes him when he says that he is sorry for abusing her and believes that he will change.
*She is aware that she needs to get out of the relationship but is scared. The life that she is currently living, though it may be Hell, is familiar to her. They have a home together and have spent many years together. The fact that they have children (you mentioned that this couple has daughters) makes things even more complicated because she now has to factor in the adverse effects that separating the kids from their father will have on them. Though she may be getting battered, she may possibly fear that her daughters will blame her for breaking up the family. Even more, if the husband is the breadwinner and all the finances and property is in his name, the wife could find herself homeless with her daughters if she ran away from him with no family or friends to turn to.
*She is aware that she needs to leave the relationship but is scared because he has threatened her, that of their daughters or his own. Some abusive partners will threaten to harm their spouse if they ever attempt to live. There have been cases where some spouses have attempted to escape from their abusive partners only to be tracked down and brutally assaulted or even killed. Even more, the abusive partner may threaten to harm the children, relatives or even commit suicide if she left him. Leaving a partner that has threatened your life is a very daring and dangerous undertaking and often requires the implementation of what is known as a "Safety Plan" and the guidance of veteran social workers at a crisis intervention center.
Talk to this woman and try to understand why she is staying with him despite the obvious abuse. You may even be in a position to help her even if it is something as low-level as secretly giving her some information and emergency phone numbers to domestic violence hotlines and crisis programs.
Just because she smiles while she is with her husband doesn't mean that she is happy. Deep down she could be screaming at you and everyone else with her eyes and her mind to save her from the living Hell of her relationship with that creep. That smile is masking a great darkness in her life.
I understand that there are some who maybe reading this and trapped in an abusive relationship. For those of you that are, here is a website and emergency phone number where you will find understanding people read to help you 24/7:
United States and Canada:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−SAFE (7233)
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (website address): www.thehotline.org
#3
KJ Mullins   Aug 31, 2011
Thank you Pierre for that information.
#4
Shawn Kay   Aug 31, 2011
Ugh, that last comment was sloppy. Sorry I didn't have time to proof-read it and check for grammatical errors. Nonetheless, I hope the information in that last comment will prove helpful for those seeking to understand the plight of those in an abusive relationship as well as those seeking to escape.
#5
Cynthia Trowbridge   Aug 31, 2011
@Shawn Kay
Cynthia,
How do you know that she is staying with her husband and enduring his abuse purely for the sake of high-value gifts that he has lavished upon her?
Have you asked her why she stays with him?
Several years ago I worked as a volunteer crisis specialist for the crisis intervention program of a prominent hospital in New York City. The crisis program I worked with dispatched crisis intervention specialists to Emergency Rooms throughout Manhattan to provide emergency counseling to women (and sometimes men) who were the survivors of incidents involving sexual assault or domestic violence.
With domestic violence, many people do not understand why someone may choose to continue on in an abusive relationship. Most women would be quick to say something like, "I won't tolerate an abusive relationship. The first time he hits me, it's over." But that's easier said than done when you are on the outside of such a relationship.
One of the things that we were taught during training was that the abuse being perpetrated is NEVER the fault of the survivor (we don't use the term "victim" in crisis intervention because "survivor" is a much more empowering term).
When we would go into the ER to provide emergency counseling to a survivor of domestic violence we would let them know that the abuse that they are suffering is not their fault. Many survivors think that perhaps if they had cooked something or wore something different it would have kept their spouse from becoming violent. But such people are prone to violent outbursts regardless of what ever maneuvers the survivor takes to appease them while walking on egg shells. At some point they will explode and strike their spouse. Such people are ticking time bombs and need professional help.
As for your friend, I'm not exactly sure what the circumstances behind her situation are though I can tell you from my experience that their maybe a multitude of reasons why she is staying with him. Such reasons may include:
*She doesn't know any better and believes him when he says that he is sorry for abusing her and believes that he will change.
*She is aware that she needs to get out of the relationship but is scared. The life that she is currently living, though it may be Hell, is familiar to her. They have a home together and have spent many years together. The fact that they have children (you mentioned that this couple has daughters) makes things even more complicated because she now has to factor in the adverse effects that separating the kids from their father will have on them. Though she may be getting battered, she may possibly fear that her daughters will blame her for breaking up the family. Even more, if the husband is the breadwinner and all the finances and property is in his name, the wife could find herself homeless with her daughters if she ran away from him with no family or friends to turn to.
*She is aware that she needs to leave the relationship but is scared because he has threatened her, that of their daughters or his own. Some abusive partners will threaten to harm their spouse if they ever attempt to live. There have been cases where some spouses have attempted to escape from their abusive partners only to be tracked down and brutally assaulted or even killed. Even more, the abusive partner may threaten to harm the children, relatives or even commit suicide if she left him. Leaving a partner that has threatened your life is a very daring and dangerous undertaking and often requires the implementation of what is known as a "Safety Plan" and the guidance of veteran social workers at a crisis intervention center.
Talk to this woman and try to understand why she is staying with him despite the obvious abuse. You may even be in a position to help her even if it is something as low-level as secretly giving her some information and emergency phone numbers to domestic violence hotlines and crisis programs.
Just because she smiles while she is with her husband doesn't mean that she is happy. Deep down she could be screaming at you and everyone else with her eyes and her mind to save her from the living Hell of her relationship with that creep. That smile is masking a great darkness in her life.
I understand that there are some who maybe reading this and trapped in an abusive relationship. For those of you that are, here is a website and emergency phone number where you will find understanding people read to help you 24/7:
United States and Canada:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−SAFE (7233)
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (website address): www.thehotline.org
Thank you Pierre and you are right I do not know if that is why she stays with him. I can't go into too much detail but her children are married and one of them has tried to get her to leave him several times.
I have also put up with verbal abuse from him and no longer have anything to do with either of them. I do see their daughters.
#6
David Silverberg   Sep 1, 2011
Of all ad idea for the salon to do, the chose this one? I think they knew this would get them media attention and raise the ire of the blogosphere, they're not naive. I never respect companies that do these ads for attention-getting reasons, especially when the ads are degrading to a certain segment of the population. For shame