Barber Gives Domestic Abuse Survivor a Powerful Haircut to Signify Her New Start


For one survivor of domestic abuse, a haircut was more than just a physical transformation -- it was an emotional and mental one too. It signified starting anew.

  • Andy Mendoza, a Connecticut-based barber, was closing up his shop one evening when he noticed a girl, identified only as Chelsea, sitting at the other end of the salon, he tells CafeMom.

    Noticing a small cut on her cheekbone, he jokingly asked if she got in a fight. She replied that her boyfriend had just tried killing her. 

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    According to a report of the case, Chelsea's boyfriend of a year and a half accused her of cheating and brutally assaulted her by threatening to kill her with a knife, strangling her, trying to break her fingers, pushing her down stairs, and cutting her hair. Chelsea managed to escape and was found sleeping in the backseat of a car with two black eyes and various cuts and bruises. 

    A protective order has since been filed, and her boyfriend has been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, second-degree assault, violation of a protective order, second-degree threatening, second-degree strangulation, first-degree kidnapping, possession of less that four ounces of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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  • Chelsea told Mendoza that someone had recommended him as "the best at hair designs in the area," and that she wanted to shave her head to represent a new start.

    At first, Mendoza was hesitant, suggesting that she'd maybe want to wait for some hair to grow back and wear a wig in the meantime. "I told her I didn't want to do something 'dramatic on top of traumatic,'" he says. 

    But she insisted, and so he started planning out a design based on one she had found online of a reptile. 

  • The actual haircutting session was silent and "very tense for everyone," according to Mendoza.

    He tried to keep a positive energy up but he couldn't help but think about how his own mother was a victim of domestic abuse. 

    He and Chelsea started conversing about reptiles and art, and the tension soon left as he finished up her haircut.

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  • As soon as Chelsea looked up at her new 'do, Mendoza says, she immediately smiled.

    Mendoza hopes Chelsea's story helps other victims of domestic abuse speak up about their experiences and reach out for help. With an estimated 20 people per minute, or 10 million people in a year, being physically abused by a partner, this call to action is extremely vital.

    "End the silence to domestic abuse," he says. "It's 2018; this is no longer something okay to keep quiet."

    "The effects of this abuse extend beyond the bruises, beyond the tears," he continues. "They haunt all who are involved. It's a problem that needs to be heard. We have to fight it with fire."