Hairdressers are being trained to spot domestic violence in Illinois

Everyone knows that dishing with your hairdresser is part of the whole haircut routine (which is why people like myself avoid hair salons at all costs). But it’s not always just idle chatter — some women are super close to their stylist and talk like they’re besties. Some smart lawmakers are using this for a good cause and want hairdressers trained to spot domestic violence. The Illinois law is an update to the Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding, and Nail Technology Act and goes into in January. It requires that once every two years hair, stylists take one hour of training on how to spot domestic violence, and nail technicians and aestheticians are also included in the bill. They won’t be able to renew their license without it.

It makes sense: Hairdressers get some good gossip, but they can also get the kind of info and stories you might not tell your best friend. When you’re in an abusive relationship, admitting to a friend that your partner physically or emotionally abuses you can be embarrassing. Or you might be really cut off from your friends, because that’s what many abusive partners do. Even if you don’t tell your stylist the nitty-gritty details and they can’t spot any bruises, they might be able to pick up on hints while you talk about your relationship, which is all part of the training.

The law is the first of its kind nationally, but there have been efforts on the ground by programs like Cut It Out to train those in the professional beauty industry for decades about how to spot domestic violence. Many in the fight for domestic violence awareness, including law enforcement, have long seen the salon as a safe space for victims.

The Illinois legislation was a group effort between Chicago Says No More, a domestic abuse awareness organization and Cosmetologists Chicago, which helped with some of the specific language in the bill. Cosmetologists Chicago spokeswoman Vi Nelson told The New York Times the group wanted to make sure the language was right to ensure women wouldn’t stop coming to salons if they thought a hairdresser would be grilling them. “We were concerned not only for the safety of domestic violence and sexual assault victims, but also for [salons] to be safe,” she said.

The more people who understand the signs of domestic violence, the better. Even if you hate talking to your hairdresser.