“There’s more to it than just doing hair.” New Illinois law requires hairdressers to undergo domestic violence support training

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MARSHALL, IL. (WTHI) – In her nine years as a professional hairstylist, Joslyn Hain has heard it all. Numerous clients have sat in her chair at Vivid Salon and Spa in Marshall, Illinois. Hain has listened to clients vent, gossip, share stories, and spill secrets.

“I just feel like I’m coming here to hang out with my friends and my family, and make people feel beautiful. I feel like stuff just comes out. You get comfortable with people when you see them every 4 weeks for years at a time,” said Hain.

The openness has some believing salon workers could help save lives. Starting January 1st, Hain, will be required by law to have special training on how to handle conversations about domestic violence and sexual assault.

Under the new measure signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner last summer, the state’s 88,000 licensed beauty professionals must take an hour-long course designed to teach them to recognize signs of an abusive relationship and ways to address it.

Stylists will be required to complete the course while applying for a new license, and then as an additional hour added to the 14 hours of continuing education required for license renewal every two years. The law includes barbers, cosmetologists, aestheticians, hair braiders and nail technicians and will be enforced by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Working through the tangles in life, Hain does her best to offer advice and said the new law will certainly provide guidance.

“I worry about them, and I look forward to their next appointment to find out what’s going on in their lives or what’s happened,” she said.

“This is close to my heart. If I could provide a way out for them I would like too. I would like to be more helpful,” added Missy Atwood, Owner of the salon.

Although the measure does not require stylists to report incidents to authorities, advocates hope the training will ultimately help lower incidents of domestic violence by making more people conscious of the problem, and offering victims one more place they can turn for help.

“I’m glad people look at us as more than just a hairstylist, because there really is a lot more to it than just doing hair,” said Hain.

Nationwide more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines. It’s estimated that 50 percent of abuse cases go unreported. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, reach out for help.