Mum grows hair to knee length, then has it cut off to help victims of domestic abuse

Having been through emotional times over the years, a charity supporter especially grew her hair to knee length, then had it cut off as a way of releasing memories.

Mum-of-two Rachel Bennett, 38, had done a lot of work with victims of domestic abuse and, shocked by what she learned, she wanted to do something to help.

Rachel with her daughters Aiesha, 15, and Tamina-Grace, seven, and hairdresser Lauren

Rachel with her daughters Aiesha, 15, and Tamina-Grace, seven, and hairdresser Lauren

She raised money for Victim Support, Worthing-based charity Safe in Sussex and Bognor Regis-based community interest company My Sisters’ House through a charity haircut, and donated the hair to Little Princess Trust.

Rachel, who grew up in Littlehampton, said: “Ever since I was at primary school, I found people were able to open up to me. In 2014, my mum was co-setting up My Sisters’ House and part of the services planned was to support women through and after domestic abuse.

“I was able to be part of the early domestic abuse working party to give my thoughts on services they could offer. I was shocked to learn that one in four women goes through domestic abuse in their lifetime and each week, at least two women are killed through domestic abuse.

“I have been through emotional times over the years myself and having my hair cut off was part of overcoming that, kind of releasing memories. So I decided to grow it as long as I could and turn it into a positive when it was cut off.”

Rachel Bennett having her hair cut for charity at TONI&GUY in East Grinstead

Rachel Bennett having her hair cut for charity at TONI&GUY in East Grinstead

Rachel, who now lives in East Grinstead, said she found the haircut ‘really emotional’ and became tearful but, with the support of hairdressers at TONI&GUY, she was able to see it through.

She added: “Lauren, who cut my hair, was brilliant and kept me positive. I was so grateful as it was something I was determined to do.”

Annabell Alexander, Rachel’s mother, still lives in Littlehampton, where Safe in Sussex runs the Amber House Community Refuge and drop-in centre. She has been part of Sussex International Women’s Day group for 15 years, founded The Goddess Foundation and is a former chairman of My Sister’s House.

Annabell said her passion is female empowerment and she has played a key role in co-ordinating International Women’s Day events each year.

Rachel Bennett's new haircut

Rachel Bennett's new haircut

Rachel said: “My mum is a real source of inspiration for me, my hero. My mum is part of the Sussex International Women’s Day event committee and I love helping out when I can, too.

“The choice of charities made sense to me. Little Princess Trust makes wigs for child victims of cancer. I was very proud of my long hair and I hope it brings happiness to whoever gets it. Victim Support helped me greatly at a difficult time in my life and they help men and women. Safe in Sussex is a great charity and they cover a wide area throughout Sussex to help victims of domestic abuse.

“Being abused is more common than people think, it is not right, it’s not something to be ashamed of, or blame oneself for, which often happens. Domestic abuse happens at all levels of society.

“It is known that one in ten men go through domestic abuse, although this figure is thought to be higher as a level of stigma prevents men from speaking out and seeking help.”

Donations online at www.gofundme.com/raising-money-for-victims-of-domestic-abuse will be going to Safe in Sussex and Victim Support, while cash donations will go to My Sisters’ House.