Sympathetic ears

Hairdressers to be trained in how to identify and help victims of domestic abuse

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(PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Starting on January 1st, hairdressers in Chicago will be taking on a new challenge — domestic violence. Chicago Says No More, an organization that works to raise awareness about domestic abuse, had approached Illinois State Senator Bill Cunningham and Representative Fran Hurley with a revolutionary idea — training salon workers to help clients who had confided about being abused. Cunningham’s own wife, it turned out, had worked as a hairdresser to put herself through college. “She told me stories about her clients providing details about terrible incidents,” said Cunningham. “She offered a sympathetic ear. She was young at the time and did not know how to get them help.”

With Cunningham’s support, and the support of Cosmetologists Chicago, the industry’s professional association, a new amendment to the law governing the cosmetology industry in Illinois now requires salon workers to receive one hour of training every two years in how to recognize the signs of abuse — and how to provide clients with resources that could help them.

“They say that the hairdresser gets all the secrets,” said Angela Smith, a Chicago stylist. “Sometimes it’s the first time they sat in your chair, and when they leave, you are like, ‘Wow.’ If I can help someone sitting in my chair any more than I have been helping them, I think it is a really, really good idea.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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