A young mum is launching her own domestic abuse awareness programme after escaping her violent ex-boyfriend.
The Evo Academy free online course’s aim is to help hair and beauty professionals recognise abusive behaviour in their clients and offer them options of professional services for domestic abuse.
Emily Pearson, 25, decided to start the course after realising she had helped people before in her role as a beauty therapist.
The mum-of-two lost her home and her job when she fled her abusive ex-boyfriend, so she has experience in the type of behaviour common in women being abused.
Her ex-boyfriend - who is also the father to her six-year-old daughter, Lily, would attack Pearson for not cleaning properly.
Once he broke her hand when she tried to call the police because of his behaviour.
She turned her life around after this terrible experience and is now engaged and has son, Dempsey, with a new partner.
The coronavirus lockdown saw a 30% spike in people using domestic abuse apps and calling helplines due to being stuck in the house with abusive partners.
Pearson decided to start the free online course at the start of lockdown to encourage people in this position to seek help during a difficult time.
“Clients often casually speak about their lives when they come for their beauty treatment and open up about their experiences.
“I realised that I had helped people previously just because I know what to say and I know what help and resources are out there.
“Once I was talking to a 45-year-old woman who was having a fat freezing treatment and her phone kept constantly ringing.
“She opened up about her partner's controlling behaviour so I said 'that is not okay' and signposted her to a support programme.
“Being in an abusive relationship, it drags you in and you become isolated.
“So it is a more gentle way of signposting victims to services that really will help them,” Pearson, who lives in Maidstone, Kent, explained.
It was the start of the coronavirus lockdown that really cemented the idea to help people in her mind.
“I wanted to do something that mattered and for it to be a free online course and I heard the news of how domestic abuse has increased massively in lockdown.
“The course explains what domestic abuse is, how to deal with difficult situations and busting common myths.
“When some people have never been in that situation there's a huge misunderstanding and they'll say 'why doesn't she just leave?'
“The programme is not really about intervening but it is about how to fill that gap between victims and professionals of domestic abuse.
“There is not anything else out there like that at the moment.”
Pearson was 17-years-old when she met her abusive ex-partner and said that the relationship started out fine in the early stages.
Soon enough, he entered into a pattern of emotional and physical abuse.
“It starts off with emotional abuse. But when you're young you don't understand what you're experiencing is emotional abuse.
“You get told 'it's because you didn't clean. That's why I'm angry with you.' You get put into the state of mind of a child.
“It was a cycle. The abuse would escalate into physical abuse, then asking for forgiveness and it would go in a circle again.
“He would say you're never going to leave me. You get isolated and eventually it escalates into violence.”
Pearson tried to leave him three times but her ex-boyfriend would hound her mum and nan until she felt too guilty and returned.
She began her own programme at the time, in an attempt to understand her personal experiences.
“At first I didn't feel I was a beaten woman but as the weeks went on I started to realise my life was exactly what they were describing.
“One week I was sitting thinking 'I can't imagine being here at 50 thinking I have lost my whole life to this.
“I was really upset I was putting my daughter through these tense feelings in the house. I thought when she's older I don't want her to come home with someone like him.
“I was lucky, my child was young at the time. I do recognise she was affected by that but I am just grateful I left when I did, now she's having a normal life.
“I am just hoping I can help someone else.”