While you pull out your fall decorations, sip on pumpkin beer and lattes and make your Halloween costume, take a moment to consider a more somber occurrence we remember in the month of October: domestic violence. It’s estimated that 20 people per minute are physically abused by their partner in the United States, which in a year, adds up to 10 million women and men. In fact, 1 in 3 women will experience some sort of violence within a relationship during their lifetime.
Being open and vocal about raising awareness for this prevalent issue and especially being there for friends and family who may be experiencing abuse will help lessen these alarming statistics. For the women who are brave enough to walk away from dangerous situations – often with their children in tow – finding a safe harbor to escape is often the turning point of their lives. Many places across the country offer shelters for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. While the location is often kept a secret to prevent their attackers from finding them, most of these charitable organizations accept – and need! – many products you probably have laying around your home.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month—and for the sake of helping out a sister in need—here are some beauty products that these shelters need and how you can help out:
1. First, Find a Center Near You
While some national organizations like The Salvation Army offer services and resources for domestic violence victims, it’s usually local non-profits that actually provide a roof over their heads and warm food for their stomachs. Some locations might even offer medical assistance, if they are recovering from an injury. As women hide out in these homes while they get their life together, look for a place to live and employment or start to file their legal cases, this place of refuge becomes their bedroom, their bathroom, their living room – their everything. And with so many affected, there’s lots that they need to keep it running.
2. Think About the Most Practical Items That Makes You Feel Good
You might love that mascara that magically doesn’t clump and the lipstick that makes your lips curve just how you like, but consider if you had to leave in the dead of the night, silently, without bringing anything with you. That’s what most women who leave violent relationships are forced to do, and while eyeshadow might seem necessary to you, what these survivors really need are the basics. Think: deodorant, soap, shampoo, etc. Try to opt for the most natural ingredients or for ones that aren’t full of perfumes and dyes, making sure that even women with skin sensitivities can benefit from your donation.
3. Volunteer to Paint Nails
When you get back from the beach—or go far too long between pedicures—you might look down on your feet and make a mental note to give your toes some TLC soon. While it’s true that women at these shelters have much bigger fish to fry than filing their nails, there’s also something empowering about feeling attractive. If you can make time—and your local shelter allows you to—consider spending an afternoon painting nails. Bring your stash of nail colors and make small talk, all while reminding the women how special, beautiful and strong they really are.
4. Organize a Group Donation Drive
Instead of making squad goals about how many bottles of vino you can get through on a random rainy Saturday afternoon, have your group efforts go toward a cause. Whether it’s with your close group of gals or an event you organize at your office, you’ll gather more products and items than you could ever build up on your own.
5. Send a Gift to the Staff
Often the folks who run shelters are some of the most kind-hearted, giving individuals you’ll ever meet – and they’d never ask for anything in return for their patience and hard work. But especially around the holidays, it’s a great time to give a little something back to those who work around-the-clock to help women. From a gift basket full of beauty products to a spa gift certificate, there are many creative—and pampering!—ways to surprise and delight.