The question I hear most often is, “Why did you start Beauty Cares?” I wanted to create a program that would benefit the community, and without any thought I quickly chose working with victims of domestic violence.
A year later, while preparing to film our first public service announcement Make Under, the art director asked me to review photos of victims of domestic violence for the video’s makeup direction. As I scanned through them I suddenly felt an enormous knot in my throat—my eyes filled with tears and a deeply buried, terrible childhood memory came crashing through. I suddenly flashed to holding my little sister’s hand, and holding my breath, as my mother was screaming on the other side of my bedroom door, “Stay inside! Don’t open the door, don’t come out!” My father was beating her so badly that her front teeth would need to be replaced.
Staring at those photos, I began to cry as I realized I was looking at what had happened to my own mother and that the blond-haired, blue-eyed young actress I had cast for the video resembled her. As a little girl I couldn’t save her, my sister or myself, and I grew up with an overwhelming sense of powerlessness.
It is time to break the silence and shame that allows this national epidemic to thrive. My mother is a survivor of domestic abuse, and so am I. In a classic example of how domestic violence is a cycle, I too have been trapped in abusive relationships marked with isolation, insults, shoving, slapping, financial abuse, stalking and threats against my life. These memories were buried in my subconscious. As they bubbled to the surface, I was too embarrassed to admit them for fear of what people would think of me: “What’s wrong with her?” or, “She’s stupid.”
Without strong intervention and education, an early childhood history of domestic violence greatly increases the likelihood of a young woman being in an abusive relationship . It’s simply unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of children are trapped as helpless witnesses and victims! As women of all ages and walks of life began sharing their stories with me, I saw more clearly than ever that we need to educate our youth about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and the early warning signs of abuse.
DOMESTIC ABUSE IS NOT JUST PHYSICAL VIOLENCE! It is emotional and mental battering that leaves a person destroyed from the inside out. Our culture has zero tolerance for environmental abuse, bullying, animal cruelty and ethnic/gender prejudice. With our Education = Prevention Initiative, we can help make intimate partner abuse unacceptable as well. At the end of a “Day 1” Program or a Beauty Cares About Kids event, we always witness our participants transformed inside and out from sad or anxious to smiling with open faces – and I know that we have made a real difference. When we visit high school and college campuses and girls share their stories and hug and thank us, I know that we can really break the cycle by starting the conversation no one is having.
By changing the way women and children see themselves, we can change the world. Will you please join us?
– Aryn Quinn