Commentary

Orange County hairstylists can help limit domestic violence

For many clients, the close relationship with their hairstylist is like no other.

After all, seeing the same person every six to eight weeks, often year after year, while sitting still in a chair for an hour or more and sharing personal stories can be revealing — which is exactly why hairstylists are being drafted into statewide efforts to stem domestic violence.

Recognizing this unique relationship, Assemblyman Rudy Salas, who represents the 32nd California Assembly District, introduced legislation earlier this year to promote awareness among salon professionals on the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and elder abuse.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed this bill into law, giving victims another outlet for support and salon professionals the opportunity to turn intuition into action on behalf of their clients.

Often thought of as a family issue, domestic violence is, in fact, a social, business and health priority that has an impact on our entire community.

According to national statistics, one in four women and one in seven men in the United States have experienced violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Many of these victims go unnoticed by neighbors, co-workers and others day to day.

But stylists often can spot telltale signs of domestic violence. The familiar nature of conversation between clients and stylists often break down barriers and gives victims the opportunity to communicate that they’re being mistreated by a spouse, partner or other family member.

Until now, no formal program in California existed to give salon professionals the education and tools they needed to become advocates for their clients.

In the same spirit of embracing salon professionals, Human Options, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence, is extending partnerships with salons throughout Orange County to educate their stylists on how to detect signs of domestic violence their clients may be showing.

The Cut It Out program kicked off at Hair Concepts in Huntington Beach is a testament to the power individuals have to stand with domestic violence victims. At each seminar, stylists will learn about the signs to look out for and how to handle each situation appropriately, with added resources for referrals and more.

Given that the average salon professional sees 200 clients every four to six weeks, they can bring awareness to the underreported and unnoticed epidemic of domestic violence.

We applaud the intent of this legislation and ask Orange County hairstyling professionals and their clients to stand up against domestic violence and help us bring this free training to more salons.

Giving people the tools to respond and building community partnerships so people know how to find Human Options represents the biggest preventive measures we can take as a community to learn to identify domestic violence and support victims.

Already, Human Options partners with Orange County schools, hospitals, police departments, lawyers, businesses and organizations to educate more than 8,000 people a year — but there’s much more work to do.

To bring this education program to your place of employment or organization, contact Human Options at (949) 737-5242, Ext. 215 or at communityeducation@humanoptions.org.

MARICELA RIOS-FAUST is CEO of Human Options.

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