The devastating murder of Sarah Everard has brought the issue of women’s safety into the spotlight in a huge way. A simple scroll through social media today will uncover a range of stories from different women, all talking about attacks, harassment and feeling threatened. As much as we might hate to admit, this is as big a problem as it has ever been, and knowing how to keep yourself safe is vital.
The beauty industry is dominated by women, and it is frightening to think how many times therapists find themselves in a vulnerable position. It is important to stress at this point that the vast majority of men are wonderful people who stand up for and protect women, but sadly there are enough that can put us at grave risk. As lockdown restrictions begin to ease and we prepare for salons to re-open, we thought it would be a good time to examine how to keep yourself safe when you return to work.
Mobile beauty therapists often find that they face the greatest risks of all. You are entering people’s homes, not knowing what, or who, you are going to find inside. The first thing to consider is making sure someone always knows where you are. Whether it is a partner or a colleague, have a copy of your appointment book available with exact details of where you are going and how long you will be there. It means someone can raise the alarm much earlier should they need to.
When you arrive at a property, park as close as possible and try to stay in a well lit area. This allows you to make a quick exit if the moment arises. Only take in the things you actually need so as to avoid weighing yourself down. Once you are in the house, set up, keeping your keys close at hand. If you do need to leave in a hurry, leave your kit behind – it might be heart wrenching to do so, but it can all be replaced. You cannot.
Many therapists find it beneficial to have a checking in and out process. This involves letting someone know that you have arrived at an appointment and that you are leaving – this can be done in front of the client so that they are aware that someone else knows where you are. You might also want to set up some sort of code on your phone that you can send to let someone at home know that you are in trouble.
Being in a salon can feel much safer, after all, it is a busy place with a lot of people coming and going. However, this is not always the case, and especially in the light of coronavirus restrictions, many therapists can find themselves working alone. Keeping your doors locked whilst you are in a treatment will stop anyone coming in off the street, but make sure you have an easy way to get out if you need to.
Putting as many security measures in place as you can will always be a good thing. Security cameras and alarms will help in the event of something happening, but can also act as a deterrent, so make sure they are clearly visible. If you are working late at night, try and leave work with someone else or have someone come to meet you, particularly in the dark.
When you are in a treatment, try and leave doors open when appropriate. This means other people can hear if you have a problem and should stop anyone from trying to do anything that they shouldn’t.
If you work from home, you need to think carefully about where you set up your workspace. If possible, try to avoid taking people through your house. This can be done by setting up your salon in a garage or garden cabin. If you do work from a bedroom or dining room, keep your access to the door clear.
Do not allow clients to wait in your house before an appointment; if they are early, make them wait in the car until their appointment time. Again, having a system that allows someone else to know your schedule and checking in with them means that they will know if there is a problem.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust advise that you should not advertise the fact that you work from home and avoid using rooms that give away any personal information about you.
As we previously stated, most men are lovely and they can make very loyal clients. The sad reality is that too many therapists have stories of inappropriate behaviour from male clients that tars all men with the same brush. Not every therapist wants to offer treatments to men because of the risk to their safety, but if you do decide to, there are some simple rules that can help.
Many therapists start by only offering treatments to men they know directly, or partners of clients they know and trust. If you book an appointment for a male client that you don’t know, make sure you take as many details as possible and don’t be afraid to test them out. A quick text message or Google search will let you know if they have given you a false name or phone number.
A man booking an appointment for the first time might have a lot of questions, some of which are awkward to ask, so don’t be immediately put off by this. However, you can soon tell if a conversation is heading in a direction that you don’t like, and this is the point where you should cut it short and refuse the appointment. If they behave in an inappropriate way during the treatment, don’t be afraid to ask them to leave. Don’t wait until the end, don’t try and get the money out of them; you will never need £50 that badly.
The best piece of advice that anyone can give you when it comes to personal safety is to trust your gut. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Even if you are mistaken, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Enjoy your job, love what you do, but please, please keep yourselves safe.