Victims of domestic violence don’t always come forward, so at times it is up to other adults to recognize the signs and take action. Similar to how hotel employees are frequently trained in spotting and preventing prostitution and human trafficking, Illinois is turning to employees in another sector to help curb domestic violence.
Under the new law, hairstylists across the state will undergo mandatory training in how to spot the signs of domestic violence, how to provide support for victims, and how to respond to the situation. The new statute stops short of making salon employees mandatory reporters, but they will undergo domestic violence training because of the close physical contact they have during their normal work duties.
“The salon is a safe place to go. People tell their stylists things they don’t even tell their family or friends,” said Professional Beauty Association Director of Charitable Programs Rachel Molepske. “We have gotten testimonials from people that said this program saved them. I’m glad more will be trained to spot the signs and symptoms of domestic violence and to respond appropriately.”
Salon Safe Space
One stylist who has been a victim of domestic violence is Jamie Feramisco. A survivor of domestic abuse, Feramisco knows how it can be difficult to open up about a bad situation at home, and she hopes she can help provide a safe safe for others in a similar situation to let them know they are not alone.
“I’m a sound board for these girls that come in,” Feramisco said. “You almost kind of second guess yourself when you’re in the situation. You ask yourself if this is appropriate behavior, if this person is treating me the way I need to be treated.”
Once the state of Illinois has established curriculum, Feramisco plans to host a training session at the salon. She believes helping stylists become aware of the issue of domestic violence will help them spot it, prevent it, and help individuals in tough situations.
“Education spreads positivity. Statistically, the more educated an area, the less violence,” Feramisco said. “We’re a community, and we need to lift each other up. I wanted to have a lot of women get together and kind of bond over it.”
The new law will go into place on January 1, 2016, although it’s uncertain if Illinois will have an established curriculum by the start of the year.