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Sexual Assault Awareness Training

Training is helpful for services that require physical contact

Local businesses are stepping up to better serve clients who have experienced sexual assault, and they’re not doing it alone. Boulder-based nonprofit MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault) offers sexual assault awareness training for business owners and their employees. The training is especially helpful for services that require physical contact, such as haircuts and massages, which may trigger trauma in survivors.

Janine D’Anniballe, the director of trauma services at Mental Health Partners, considers such training crucial for our community. “Research shows that at least 70 percent of the population has experienced at least one traumatic event in their life,” she says. “People in the service industry often have the very best intentions, but could be inadvertently re-traumatizing their clients [with unwanted or abrupt physical contact].”

Hair stylists at West End Salon went through MESA training in 2017, which taught them how to help their clients feel safe, in control and comfortable enough to confide in them.
“I feel this is a very important skill for stylists and anyone working with people to know about,” says Lucille Pew, a West End Salon stylist. “We can show up for our community and, ultimately, raise emotional intelligence globally. If we could all show up for our clients in this way, all of us would feel less alone. That goes a long way.”

Tara DeMuth, manager at West End Salon, agrees and notes that, while stylists are perceived as safe confidants, clients may convey their distress in subtle ways. She says: “It is sometimes discreet and therefore worth the trainings, so you can identify a cry for help.”

For more information or to set up training for your company, email MESA at info@movingtoendsexualassault.org or call 303-443-0400.

—Sara Bruskin