Clifton, NJ – A family services agency in the New York City neighbourhoods of Washington Heights and Central Harlem has launched a three-year pilot project to partner with local hair salons and train stylists on how to identify cases of domestic abuse, as many woman go to hair stylise physical abuse can sometimes be visible.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Clifton-Passaic’s Jewish Family Service (JFS) division received a grant to implement its own version of a similar programme called “Cut It Out”, with a special approach to reach Passaic’s Orthodox Jewish population.
Starting next week, JFS will be training hair stylists, but also professional wig stylists, according to Sharon Zwickler, a second-year social work student who has interned with JFS’s Project S.A.R.A.H. (Stop Abusive Relationships At Home) for over a year.
Since Orthodox Jewish women often cover their hair with wigs, hats or scarves after they become married, training wig stylists is an ideal way to reach these women in a setting where they feel most comfortable, Zwickler explained.
JFS eagerly signed up to run its own version of the programme because “it parallels one of our earlier initiatives,” explained director Esther East. “We’ve been training Jewish ritual bath attendants to be resources for women for 10 years. It’s been our experience that they are so grateful that someone is paying attention to them, as a group that has been on the front line with people in need.”
Indeed, hair stylists often play a uniquely intimate role in their clients’ lives as confidants, friends — even informal therapists, salon professionals agree.
“As a hairdresser, you build a bond with your clients, especially the people who you’ve worked with for a really long time. Some of them having been coming [to me] for 25 years,” said Joedy Puleio, a stylist at Innovation Hair Design in northern New Jersey. “I’ve heard of people’s husbands having affairs. I’ve had people cry in my chair about arguments they’ve had.”
This role for stylists is not limited to the beauty salon, but extends into the masculine realm of the barber shop. [IPS] Vosizneias.com