WHEN THE EX-HUSBAND of a stylist opened fire at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, California, in early October, not only did his ex-wife lose her life, but so did seven others, including the salon’s owner, several stylists, a client and a passerby.
Without a doubt, it’s any salon owner’s very worst nightmare. In the aftermath of the unfathomable violence, we question if there were warning signs. Could any of this have been prevented?
Donna Bartos, founder of Purple Ribbon Council (purpleribboncouncil.org) and Patrick McIvor, the council’s national ambassador and spokesperson, a Chairs of Change activist, and a salon owner himself, have helped create awareness for domestic abuse prevention and intervention through the salon-specific program, ‘Break the Silence, Break the Cycle and Save Lives!’ Now they are committing a portion of their fundraising efforts to the families of the victims of Salon Meritage, and they are asking for help from salons around the country.
The Purple Ribbon Council is dedicated to mobilizing salon professionals and others to fight the epidemic of domestic abuse in communities across the United States. The Council builds awareness through salon posters and educates salon professionals to recognize the warning signs and safely refer clients to resources. “One in four women are victims of domestic abuse and one in three teens report experiencing dating violence. Friends, family and service providers like salon professionals can easily overlook the red flags of relationship abuse because they are often very subtle and don’t always show up m the form of bruises or physical attacks,” says Bartos.
McIvor works with Chairs of Change, a movement started by Matrix dedicated to celebrating and empowering stylists as the create positive personal, professional and social change. “Salons are usually viewed as safe havens—a place where you can vent to your stylist about anything. The more we educate salons about how to spread awareness, how to identify the signs of those being abused and how to safely make a referral for support, the more tragedies we can prevent,” he says.
The first week in May is “Pretty in Purple week, a fundraising and awareness effort benefiting the council’s Purple Ribbon Fund for Children Orphaned by Domestic Homicide. The campaign engages salons and spa professionals across the U.S. to “go purple” and share intervention information with their clients. Fundraising events, such as cut-a-thons and manicure parties are held and purple paper butterflies are sold and displayed to support the children left behind when domestic abuse turns deadly. This year, McIvor and Bartos hope to reach the goal of 200 participatory salons and are planning on donating a percentage of the proceeds directly to the children affected by the shooting at Salon Meritage.
“When an abuser feels like he or she has lost power and control over their victim, they often snap, which was the case at Salon Meritage, and eight innocent lives were lost. Without stricter laws to hold perpetrators accountable, we can’t stop an abuser on a mission, but there are safety planning services and shelters in place to protect victims, prevention programs like Cut It Out for grassroots interventions, and projects such as Camp Butterfly to help children regain a sense of normalcy after losing their mother or father to domestic violence homicide,” says Bartos.