US hairdressers train to spot domestic abuse

  • 02/11/2015
US hairdressers train to spot domestic abuse

Lawmakers in the United States want to train hairdressers to spot signs of domestic abuse.

Campaigners say some abused women are more comfortable confiding in them, even when they're too afraid to tell their own family.

Women go to the salon for a new look but can end up spilling secrets about struggles at home. New York stylist Kerri Towers has heard it all.

"It can be intimate once you get to know someone," she says. "It can be very intimate. Once you get to know someone and they keep coming back to you, they trust you. They trust you with their hair and sometimes they talk about their families."

It's that kind of openness that has Illinois lawmakers looking to require a mandatory hour of training for nail technicians and hairdressers to spot signs of abuse when renewing their license every two years. This would be the first law of its kind in the US.

National programmes like the Professional Beauty Association's Cut It Out train stylists to recognise abuse and refer victims to helpful resources.

Results can be hard to track. Safe Horizon is the largest victim services agency in the US, and CEO Ariel Zwang says abused women are often isolated from friends and family, so they're more likely to open up to a cosmetologist.

"There's something about that salon technician or hair stylist that makes them feel free to talk but not be judged," she says.

In the US, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines. But the US Department of Justice estimates 50 percent of cases go unreported.

Watch the video for the full CBS News report.