WATCH ABOVE: Thanks to a new training program, a salon in St. Albert is hoping to help stop domestic violence in the community. Lisa Wolansky explains.
EDMONTON — There’s a popular adage that hair stylists are like therapists. Many clients open up to their hairdresser in a way they don’t with anyone else. An Alberta organization wants to make good on that relationship.
The Stop Abuse in Families (SAIF) Society is providing salon professionals with education, support and tools all relating to violence prevention.
“Eighty-four per cent of people trust their hairdresser over their therapist,” said Cortney Lohnes with SAIF.
The hope is that salons will take the training so that more staff will be able to recognize, respond to and help refer clients who may be victims of domestic abuse.
SAIF Society in St. Albert partnered with the Neighbours, Friends and Families program to provide this training program, aptly named the Cut It Out Campaign.
Reflection Hair Salon in St. Albert recently hosted a training session for its employees.
The program gives stylists the information to spot warning signs of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and be able to safely refer clients to local resources. Cut It Out advises stylists how to watch for physical signs, including bruising or cuts, but also teaches them how to watch for less obvious signs, like personality changes or clients acting nervous around their partners.
“The way that domestic violence works is that it’s not just one incident of violence, it’s a pattern of behaviour,” said Lohnes.
“Salon professionals see their clients over time so they are really able to see those patterns unfold.”
The training teaches staff to gently offer help and provide contact numbers for organizations that could help, while not getting personally involved.
“Start with your heart. Use compassion and empathy,” explained Lohnes. “The third piece is really about training professionals about what’s available in the community and how to refer.
“What we might recommend saying is… ‘this is some behaviour that’s really worrying me. I’m not sure what’s going on. If you’d like to talk, I’m totally open to hearing what you have to say. If you need to make a private phone call you can make one here. And here’s some information you can look at while you’re here and then leave here if you want.’
“It’s really about creating a safe space.”
SAIF Society has offered similar training to other businesses, but Reflection is the first in St. Albert to take the group’s salon-specific training.
The society says hair salons are among its top referral sources.
SAIF said its numbers indicate 51 per cent of women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
For more information on how to participate in the Cut it Out Campaign, contact Cortney Lohnes with SAIF, at 780-460-2195 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the SAIF Society can be found at stopabuse.ca.