CHICAGO (CBS) — The front line in the fight against domestic abuse could be hair stylists.
At a City Council committee hearing today, prosecutors and domestic violence experts campaigned for hair stylists, cosmetologists, and nail technicians to go through mandatory training to spot signs of abuse, and help victims.
When women sit in that hair chair, a unique bond is created between them and their stylist. The City Council heard from sponsors of a resolution today that aims to capitalize on that bond for the safety of women in abusive relationships.
“There’s a confessional door that closes when you sit in the chair,” said Marek Hartwig, owner of Marek Bridal Styling.
Hartwig, a 25-year veteran of the industry, said his clients feel like they can tell him anything, and now he’s one of thousands of hair stylists in Illinois who could use their stylist/client bond to become an integral part in the war to stop domestic violence.
“There’s a trust, and they tell things more to a stylist than they tell probably anybody else, because it’s a no judge zone,” Hartwig said.
He and his peers could soon be required to take a one-hour training class before the next time their licenses come up for renewal.
“I completely agree with it,” Hartwig said.
Legislation is being pursued in Springfield to make this a statewide initiative to help in the fight against violence.
“There has to be a vocabulary, or a script for us to follow. We can’t overreact when we see something,” Hartwig said. “I think there’s a better chance that they’re going to be able to seek out the help, or to discuss it, and stop the cycle, if they are going through some kind of abuse.”
Kristie Paskvan, founder of Chicago Says No More has taken the lead in a campaign to recruit the help of salon workers statewide, and hopes to have state legislation in place next year.
“We think there’s a possibility that the beautician may see signs of abuse,” she said.