Proposed law wants salon workers to help combat domestic violence

Published: Nov. 3, 2015 at 2:53 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 3, 2015 at 3:05 AM CST
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A proposed Illinois law would require salon workers to receive special training on how to spot and help potential victims of domestic violence.

Illinois lawmakers hope some women's willingness to share intimate details while getting their hair or nails done could lead to more victims finding help.

For 25 years, Shawne Holmes has been cutting clients' hair and hearing their stories.

"Some people you know really well, you know their whole life story," Holmes said. "The general rule in hair is 80 percent about you and 20 percent about me. So I'd much rather you just let's go where you want to go with this."

It's that mindset that some Illinois politicians hope to utilize to combat domestic violence.

If passed hairstylists and nail technicians in the state would receive one hour of special training, every two years before they can renew their beauty license.

National programs like the National Beauty Association's "Cut It Out" initiative offers training how to spot abuse, but on a volunteer basis.

Molly Woeltje works as the education coordinator for the Cape Girardeau Safe House for Women. She has helped train beauty professionals to spot problems in the past.

"I think when anyone's relaxed they're more likely to start talking," Woeltje said. "Maybe they're talking about how their partner controls the money or how their partner controls what they do. Maybe the salon professional can pick up on some unhealthy traits that way."

Though they agree the intentions are good some question how effective those programs like those can be.

"I don't think a lot of the women that are being kept down in those situations are in here," Holmes said.

But advocates believe mandating training could be worth the time and money.

"I honestly think that the more people in the community that are trained or educated somewhat on domestic violence, the further it will go to helping victims," Woeltje said.

Under the law, salon workers would not be held liable for not reporting potential cases.

If the Illinois law passes, it would be the first of its kind around the country.

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