UTSA students, New Life Ministries launch program to combat domestic violence

Unmasked: Beyond the Chair is a way to shine a light on the issue of domestic violence while educating local hairstylists on how to help their clients get help if they need it.

More domestic violence murders occur in Bexar County than almost anywhere else in Texas, but a team of UTSA students along with New Life Ministries want to change that with a new program called Unmasked: Beyond the Chair.

It's a way to shine light on the issue of domestic violence while educating local hair stylists on how to help their clients facing it get help.

Pastor Ester Maldonado with New Life Ministries came up with the idea after encountering a domestic violence victim at a salon.

"A hair dresser came in and just stated there was a woman that had domestic violence issues that was needing supplies," Maldonado recalled. "So everybody got together and got shampoo, conditioner, and she just walked out, but everybody just went back to their hair."

It bothered her though, so much so that she proposed the idea for the domestic violence awareness program to UTSA Professor Elizabeth Cruz.

"Not to provide therapy, not to give them advice, just to be a support and give resources to people experiencing domestic violence," Professor Cruz noted.

Stylists and cosmetologists like Naomi Randall are on the front lines of the domestic violence crisis. They see and hear the evidence.

"Most clients trust the stylists with a lot, not just their personal look," Randall said. "So the signs are pretty prevalent when you have a client that's a victim."

In 2016, alone, 11 women in Bexar County were killed at the hands of their lovers, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence.

Unmasked: Beyond the Chair will launch on November 28 with a community meeting that will begin educating the public, students, and beauty community on how they can help domestic violence victims. Anyone is invited to attend the event in November at 6:30 PM at New Life Ministries of San Antonio.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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