Justice

How Hairdressers Can Combat Domestic Abuse

A first-of-its-kind law set to go into effect in Illinois next year will require hairdressers to be trained to identify signs of domestic abuse. Starting January 1, salon workers will take a one-hour class every two years when they renew their licenses to learn how to spot red flags on the job.

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The law is intended to provide clients with a means of reporting domestic violence in a safe environment. Though more than 4,700,000 women are physically abused by a partner each year, only 34 percent seek medical treatment and only 25 percent report the incident to police, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Illinois wants more women in abusive relationships to feel enabled to come forward.

Why hairdressers?

The Professional Beauty Association has already launched a campaign called "Cut It Out" that aims to raise awareness about the role of hairdressers in addressing domestic violence. The campaign website notes that "[s]alon professionals are in a unique position to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse in their clients and co-workers."

"Because salon professionals are skilled and experienced listeners who are personally interested in those around them, many victims suffering from abuse feel comfortable confiding in them — even if they would never tell anyone else. For an abused woman, the salon may be an ideal environment to seek out help because it may be one of the few places she is allowed to go without her abuser."

They may also be able to spot signs of physical abuse like “tender spots on the scalp that are unexplainable or bruising along the hairline,” Brittney Delp, supervisor of the Illinois domestic violence services at the nonprofit Family Resources, Inc. told Yahoo.

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Salon professionals who report signs of domestic abuse to the police are protected from lawsuits, Tribune affiliate WQAD reported. However, there's no requirement to report to police if a worker suspects that one of their clients has experienced domestic abuse.