I noticed an article about a law requiring hairdressers in Tennessee to undergo training to recognize signs of domestic abuse as of January 2022. Subsequently, I discovered that Tennessee ranks 5th as the state where women are killed by men. So utilizing any available resource wouldn’t be surprising, still, I was curious why Tennessee and no other states? That’s how I discovered that many other states have similar programs. New York, Illinois, Massachusetts… and to my great surprise that list included Texas or at least certain counties in Texas, with a program that began in 2015 in Brazos County, where about half of violent felonies were from domestic abuse situations. Yet in none of these states is the training extensive but that’s not the point, hairdressers—and barbers—are not therapists–. The point is that hairdressers and barbers are in a unique position. Domestic abuse sufferers will generally not report their predicament to law enforcement but they will share it under the right conditions. And all of us know the freedom one experiences, how open and unfettered we can be while our hair is being cut and fussed with. Hairdressers can notice bruises and cuts, but also they can observe or be taught to observe certain behavior such as self- blame, sudden lifestyle changes, irregular appointments. One hair dresser noticed a bald spot in her client and it turned out that her husband was pulling her hair out. As a rule the task of the hairdressers and barbers is not to report it to law enforcement but to share appropriate resources. That can be something as simple as giving them a phone number or two. In Tennessee it took a while for the law to be passed. The legislature did not want to appropriate funds for the training. Finally a sponsor came through.
Training hairdressers and barbers is such a common-sense approach to a delicate problem. I don ’t know it if is in all states, but I would surmise in time it will be.