A salon isn’t only a place for deep conditioning treatments—it’s a sacred space to discuss deep thoughts amid the smell of dye and lavender shampoo. Stylists hear countless stories about their clients’ personal lives: the good, the bad, and the truly awful. Consequently, an Illinois law took effect in January dictating that salon professionals receive domestic-violence and sexual-assault awareness training as part of their licensing.

Domestic abuse is an issue with which Shalon McMiller, owner of Luxe Locks Extension Salon & Spa in Fairfield, California, is very familiar. “My friend’s boyfriend used to beat her up in high school,” she says. “That was my first exposure to domestic violence, and it made me so angry. And over the years, lots of clients have told me stories of abuse. One client was living in her car just to escape a violent situation.”

So in 2014, when longtime customer Rosalyn Spradley started Advocates Against Domestic Violence in the African-American Community (AADVAC), McMiller, a 23-year salon veteran, was on board. “I wanted all the information, pamphlets, resources,” she says, “whatever she could give me that would help me help somebody else.” Spradley offered McMiller advice (methods for introducing and guiding conversation) and info (locations of nearby shelters, relevant hotlines), even explaining how to spot human-trafficking victims.

Spradley, who has since trained other Luxe Locks staff members, visits monthly to discuss issues like developments in their county court system— and get her hair done. At the salon, McMiller holds fundraisers every October and refers clients to AADVAC if they need help; she also provides free styling for abuse victims prepping for job interviews. “Initially, I just listened,” says McMiller. “But the more Rosalyn educated me, the more I felt I could be a resource. I definitely didn’t plan to do this, but these issues impact so many of my clients, I couldn’t not get involved.”


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