New legislation in Illinois could provide victims of domestic violence or sexual assault help in an unexpected place.
Under an amendment to a 1985 cosmetology act, barbers and other salon professionals will be required to complete one hour of domestic violence and sexual assault awareness training.
The training will teach the professionals how to recognize signs of abuse and offer resources to their clients.
“If in fact the hairdresser sees something — sees wounds, sees bruises … he or she might be able to get that victim to speak out,” said former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
The law applies to cosmetology professionals like hair stylists, nail technicians and skincare specialists. While it’s intended to provide a safe space for victims, stylists will not be held criminally responsible for failing to report abuse.
Experts from a Chicago-based group helped design the salon training program known as “Listen. Support. Connect.” The group is a coalition of agencies called Chicago Says No More, which provides domestic violence and sexual assault education and resources.
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