VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk State University professor wants to hear from 100 barbers in Hampton Roads.

NSU Professor Dr. Stephenie Howard hopes more barbers become allies and speak out against abuse before it’s too late.

“It is a lifesaving intervention.”

In partnership with the HBCU and Samaritan House, Howard created an online survey for barbers.

“Barbershops are resources in Black communities. It is where critical conversations are [happening],” said the founder of the ‘Communities in Power’ non-profit organization. “They play an instrumental role in ending domestic violence. It is quite possible that they can be instrumental in terms of helping identify people who are engaging in some unhealthy or unsafe practices.”

Barbershops are often a resource in Black communities.

“They see us more times than they see anybody outside of their family, so we are very important,” explains Bria Riddick, the owner of Citizen King Barbershop in Virginia Beach.

Riddick tells 10 On Your Side one of her male clients is a survivor of abuse.

“This is something that men and women go through.”

Many of Riddick’s close friends have also been victims of violence, now she wants to be a part of the change.

“Barbers and clients have like a super close-knit relationship, so us saying something might be that one thing that makes them think ‘OK, well maybe I do need to go get help.'”

Calls for help, reports of abuse and deadly domestic violence trends are up. Courtney Pierce, the Black Advisory chair for Samaritan House attributes the rise in domestic violence to the pandemic and financial strain.

“I’ve never seen this amount in the last 10 years.”

Dr. Howard and Pierce teamed up to host three meetings about domestic violence with Black men.
“We really want to get a pulse on what our community needs from us and the best ways we can serve them.”

The Violence Policy Center reports that Black women experience deadly domestic violence violence at a higher rate.

“It is time to have conversations surrounding what oppression and marginalization have done to Black communities and also ways that we can support their strengths,” said Pierce. “There are so many things that are beautiful about being Black and being a part of a Black community.”

Both advocates said it’s all about sharing information on what a healthy relationship looks like — those discussions often start in the barbershop.

“We can normalize these kinds of conversations if we just keep bringing people together to have the conversations and to do the work,” said Howard.

Howard wants about 100 barbers to take the survey.

If you or you know someone who may be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse, click here for a list of local and national resources.

Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.