Imagine that you’re a cosmetologist. A patient walks in, and sits herself timidly in your chair. As you begin your work, you notice her working especially hard to keep an area of her face covered by a scarf. Kindly, you ask her to remove it. When she finally does, an enormous bruise she seemed to be hiding takes you aback. Your mind invents a thousand backstories for what might have caused the bruise, but without the right tools, it is almost impossible to be a resource for a woman who is obviously in harm’s way.
Cosmetologists have a unique relationship with their clients. We recognized the invaluable power of this relationship, and created a program to put it to use as a way to prevent a tragedy.
Over a year ago, the state of Illinois in the United States recognized the power of cosmetologists and their importance in the prevention of domestic abuse. In January of last year, the state passed a law requiring stylists and beauty technicians to undergo training to recognize signs of domestic abuse.
We decided to adapt this bill here in Israel in the form of a pilot program, alongside two other organizations, the Israel Cosmetic Association and and Women’s Spirit. There is a profound impact that a knowledgeable cosmetologist can have on a client in need of advice; so with that in mind, we initiated this program.
With the pilot ready to be implemented, we came to the Ministry of Welfare. We explained our program, and with their blessing, implemented the pilot and professional development into the working system. We’ve come to understand exactly how significant these cosmetologists are in our communities here in Israel, due to the reach of women they have in their midst.
With the success of this pilot, we were flooded with calls from workers in other industries who wanted to take part in preventing the next tragedy. We realized that this initiative could make an impact far beyond the beauty industry.
The world of technology is abundant in resources that are deeply intertwined in our personal lives. This makes it the perfect place to continue our work on domestic violence. With tools and resources already provided by several technological outlets, such as Google, Facebook and Virtual Reality technology, our reach could be profound.
On the sixteenth of January, I dedicated a day in the Knesset to this cause. We brought together experts in all these fields, and discussed exactly how we can productively and effectively use the tools at our disposal to come together and prevent future domestic abuse and violence. Representatives from Facebook described the success of their privacy policies on preventing violence. Representatives from Google promoted programs which provide tools to help promote social initiatives.
These initiatives are more than training programs. When we stop relying solely on the police or welfare institutions to keep people safe, we develop a sense of responsibility for one another. By giving professionals in the community the tools to prevent tragedies and abuse, we create stronger, more united, safer communities.