How to handle….

Customers who appear to be experiencing
non-consensual physical / sexual / mental violence

Information compiled by Catharine Hinton

As a henna artist we have physical access to an individual’s body which sometimes is not dissimilar to the access that a GP or parent has. This privilege can occasionally cause concern where a customer appears to be experiencing non-consensual physical / sexual or mental violence especially where vulnerable adults or children are concerned.

It is unlikely that a customer will be open about their experiences and therefore it will be very difficult for either of you to acknowledge the problem directly. The customer could consider any comment a severe breach of their privacy and discussing the matter can be life threatening if the perpetrator or their associates is in the vicinity of you and can see or hear your conversation. Your customer is likely to have their own coping mechanisms and plans for the future which would be inappropriate for them to disclose to you.

In all situations it is best to only signpost to support services in a discreet and sensible way.

What you don’t do:

1. You do not under any circumstances raise the issue, no matter how much you want to.

What you can do:

1.    Contact local support organisations and request leaflets, flyers, business cards and other information about their services.
2.    Display a selection of these in your booth and design books either prominently or subtly depending on you as an individual and the advice that you receive from the support organisations you contact.
3.    Enable the information to be perused and have some information (such as telephone helplines) available to be discreetly taken away.
4.    Generally, but in particular, if the individual is a child or vulnerable adult (i.e. with learning difficulties) then contact the appropriate support service for their advice about reporting your suspicions to the relevant authority.
5.    Consider giving a percentage of your takings to / or otherwise supporting a charitable support service as these support services desperately need funding to continue with their work.
6.    Look out for local events such as ‘International Women’s Day’ or events run by Domestic Violence or Child protection charities as fundraisers. Offer your services….offer your services for free!

How to handle….

…a friend, family member, colleague, neighbour or anyone you know who confides in you that they are experiencing domestic abuse.

Many people have good reason to be frightened of their abuser, it is common for perpetrators to threaten to harm or even kill their partners or children if they leave. Understanding this, there are some basic things that you can do to assist and give support anyone you know who confides in you that they are experiencing domestic abuse.

•    Listen to them.  Give her time to talk, but don't push for too much detail
•    Don’t blame them
•    Try to understand them
•    Tell them they are not alone
•    Acknowledge that it takes strength to trust someone enough to talk to them about experiencing abuse
•    Acknowledge that it is a frightening and very difficult situation
•    Tell them that no one deserves to be threatened or beaten, there is no justification for the abusers behaviour
•    Support them especially in making their own decisions
•    Let them express their feelings, whatever they are
•    Allow her to make her own decisions.
•    Don't tell her to leave the relationship if she is not ready to do this. This is her decision. Whilst the risk of staying may be very high, simply leaving the relationship does not guarantee that the violence will stop. In fact, the period during which a woman is planning or making her exit, is often the most dangerous time for her and her children.
•    Offer to go with them to the Police, Hospital, GP or Solicitor
•    Be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help to abused women and their children. Explore the available options with her.
•    Offer your friend the use of your address and/or telephone number to leave information and messages, and tell her you will look after an emergency bag for her, if she wants this.
•    Look after yourself while you are supporting someone through such a difficult and emotional time. Ensure that you do not put yourself into a dangerous situation; for example, do not offer to talk to the abuser about your friend or let yourself be seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship.

UK Contacts

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid in the UK has an excellent website which is full of information and contact details for general and more specialised support services, including those for children and other more specialist situations.

Women’s Aid National

Freephone 24 hour UK National Domestic Violence Helpline 0800 2000 247

Women's Aid Federation of England
Head Office,
PO BOX 391
BS99 7WS,
Tel: 0117 944 44 11 (general enquiries only)
Fax: 0117 924 1703


(Welsh) Domestic Abuse Helpline 08088010800

Welsh Womens Aid
Cardiff National Office
38-48 Crwys Road
CF24 2NN
Tel: 02920 39 08 74
Fax: 02920 39 08 78


(Scotland) Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 027 1234

Scottish Women's Aid
2nd Floor,
132 Rose Street,
Tel: (0131) 226 6606
Fax: (0131) 226 2996
Textphone: (0131) 226 5912

Republic of Ireland

(Republic of Ireland) national Freephone Helpline - 1800 341 900

Everton Housing
47 Old Cabra Road
Dublin 7
Tel: +353 1 868 4721
Fax: +353 1 868 4722

Northern Ireland

(Northern Ireland) 24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline 0800 917 1414
129 University Street
Tel:(028) 90 249041
Fax:(028) 90 239296

In the USA, laws vary state by state, but are similar to the guidelines above.

For emergencies in the USA, call   
National Domestic Violence Hotline:
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or
(TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Support servies in Australia:
Please note: Note: Computer use can be monitored by an abuser and is impossible to completely clear.   You may prefer viewing information on domestic violence at your local library, a community center, or a shelter in your area.

The Henna Page is an educational resource
devoted to the history, traditions, techniques, science and art of Henna!