Training beauty professionals to spot domestic and sexual abuse

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MASON CITY, Iowa – Going to get your hair cut can be a therapeutic activity. Sitting down, relaxing and talking about what’s going on in your life. For those dealing with domestic abuse or sexual assault, it could be a way to let down your guard for a few moments. Now a new law in one state is training hair dressers to spot the warning signs and get their clients the help they need.

Hairstylist Nicole Snyder has seen and heard a lot over the time she’s been cutting people’s hair. That includes once having a client in a domestic situation.

“I heard of someone who had a domestic situation, of course I genuinely cared about this person and developed a relationship with them,” Snyder said. “I had reached out to them with no reply, no response so I just kind of let it be and just hoped for the best.”

Snyder says she didn’t know how to help her client. In Illinois, lawmakers are trying to change that.

Mary Ingham of Crisis Intervention Services says it’s a step in the right direction.

“Anytime we can train more individuals about the signs of domestic violence and sexual assault and where to refer people to local services I think that’s a great addition to any community,” Ingham said.

Ingham says some people may be willing to share more with their hairstylist than friends. And although they may not be ready to accept help right away, it doesn’t hurt to try.

“For that one time you are able to help somebody I think it’s worthwhile,” Ingham said.

Snyder isn’t sure about the training being a requirement, but says it could be a valuable tool to have.

“I guess I kind of have mixed feelings about it as far as it being a requirement, I’m not sure what I think about that,” Snyder said. “But there can only be beneficial things that come from it, it could never hurt anything having more knowledge.”

The law in Illinois on Jan. 1. Beauty professionals would be required to have one hour of training every two years with the renewal of their license.

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