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In Tennessee, law requires hairstylists to take anti-domestic abuse training

The new year comes with a new law for cosmetologists across Tennessee, and it could have a major impact on people’s lives. The new law requires hairstylists and barbers to know the signs of domestic violence and abuse.

As of January 1, fresh cuts or fun styles aren’t the only types of training barbers or hairstylists need to have. They must also go through a free, 1-hour training to make sure they can give someone resources if he or she is a possible victim of domestic violence.

People tend to share a lot with their hairstylists. Stacey Handel, the owner of Garde Bien Spa Salon, said that’s what makes the experience so special.

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“We sometimes do know them better than many relatives, aunts and uncles and so forth, and I love that about our clients,” Handel said. “Most of the instances in our salon are quite happy but every now and then you do have situations.”

Clients often share the good while the chair, talking about their families or their jobs. But sometimes they also share the bad — and even the ugly.

“I’ve been doing hair for more than 40 years, so I’ve certainly sat in a room with individuals who have told me many many private things,” Handel said. “That training could really have helped me back then.”

Those concerning conversations are few and far between, but Handel said she has had clients in the past who showed signs of abuse.

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The new law says all certified cosmetologists and barbers in the state need to take an anti-domestic abuse training course. They will learn the physical and emotional warning signs.

However, this does not make cosmetologists mandatory reporters of abuse but it teaches them how to direct their clients to the right resources. It comes at a time of heightened anxiety around the world, with many people isolated at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Financial [issues] and worry about dying. I mean there’s a lot to be worried about right now, lots to be stressed about,” Handel said. “But if it’s amplified and our industry can help, it’s a good thing.”

This training is just another valuable tool added to a hairstylist’s belt Handel said.

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People should know they can still be open and still be themselves with their hairstylists — this training is to help identify someone in danger and get them help. Since hairstylists are not mandatory reporters, they are not required to contact state agencies.

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