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Matt Brown (center) and the barbers and friends who are part of the "She Is Not Your Rehab" movement

A movement to help men address their trauma so they don’t bring it forward into their families and communities is gaining international attention. Husband, dad, barber, and change agent, Matt Brown is the spirit behind “She Is Not Your Rehab”, an initiative launched inside his Christchurch, New Zealand barbershop, My Father’s Barbers @myfathersbarber.

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"Children act out what they’ve been modeled, not what they’ve been taught.Be a hero please and heal."--Matt Brown

 In talking to clients over the years-- and having his own history of domestic abuse in the home--Brown recognized that when men who have lived through (or committed) violence open-up about their pain in a safe, nonjudgmental space, healing can begin.  Brown encourages men to look at themselves intead of looking to their girlfriends, wives, or mothers to cure or rehabilitate them.  

"This is a movement for whānau, (a Māori-language word for extended family) because if men take responsibility for their own healing that will heal the whole family and if women take responsibility for their own healing and do not rescue men that will heal the whole family, because our kids are watching," Brown says. 

A long-standing and narrow definition of masculinity means men have not been encouraged to explore or express their feelings.  And as long as men feel pressure to be the silent tough guys, unspoken pain keeps traveling from father to son, onwards. Breaking the cycle requires supporting men as they tell their stories and help them move along that continuum to a place of healing.

Brown shared his story on the Ted stage and is finding so many people connecting with it. He will continue the work by introducing a program in prisons, where he will combine barber education with talking about “She Is Not Your Rehab.”  He is also writing a book and has started a podcast with his wife, Sarah Brown.

“I wanted to speak for the kids, like myself, who went through domestic violence, I want to speak for the woman who can’t speak up for themselves, and I wanted to tell my story which is a lot of people’s story.”

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Be brave, breathe & do the inner work. Until we do the inner work, we are the walking projections of the pain & fear we’ve been carrying our entire lives.”-@myfathersbarber