Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Hairdressers and beauticians are being trained to spot signs of domestic abuse


A groundbreaking new law will see thousands of US beauty professionals trained to spot signs of domestic abuse among customers.

Backed by domestic violence campaigners and the Professional Beauty Association, the new rule will require hairstylists and beauticians in the US state of Illinois to learn what to look for and how best to offer support to their clients, though they will not be required to report suspected abuse.

Read more: Amber Heard’s powerful open letter about experiencing domestic violence

There are 88,000 licenced beauty professionals in Illinois and all risk losing their licences if they do not take up the training when the law takes effect on January 1.


Nail technicians and hairdressers are among the beauty professionals being trained to spot domestic abuse

For many women, hairdressers and beauty salons are safe, female-only spaces where they are at ease with the stylists they trust to touch and transform their hair and body. This relatively intimate one-to-one relationship often leads clients to open up about a troubled home life.

Angela Smith, a Chicago hairstylist for 20 years, tells the New York Times she has helped clients who are victims of domestic abuse. As well as simply listening and offering a sympathetic ear, she has suggested to customers they finally need to call the police. This was the case with one regular, who told Smith her boyfriend was threatening to ram her with his car.

Read more: Mariah Carey on finally leaving her emotionally abusive husband

“They let go here,” Smith says. “Everybody doesn’t talk, but once you build a relationship with someone, that’s when it happens. It’s just like when you have a best girlfriend.”

Illinois hairdresser Jamie Feramisco is herself a domestic abuse survivor. She has completed the training programme and explains that being in such close contact with a stranger creates a strong client-stylist relationship.

“When you’re a hairdresser, you're touching people first,” Feramisco told the local Herald Whig newspaper. “I'll start touching your hair before I really even start talking to you. It’s really close. It’s one of the highest-touch industries, which creates a bond with your clients.”


One in three women and one in seven men experience domestic violence (US figures)

Beauty industry workers have been consulted at length about the legislation, which has been fine-tuned amid fears staff could be held liable for missing signs of abuse and concerns over whether customers would welcome advice from their stylists

"The whole idea is to help hair dressers deal with disclosures. There is a right way and a wrong way to talk to someone. It can make or break the way a person handles their assault," says JJ Magliocco, of domestic violence prevention charity Quanada. "We are teaching them that they can make a difference. They don't have to keep their mouth shut."

Read more: The world’s oldest woman is a domestic abuse survivor

Salon workers who suspect customers are being abused will be trained how to act on their suspicions and how to pass on help through options such as helplines, safe houses, restraining orders and access to legal support.

The training focuses on identifying warning signs among both female and male customers, with one in three women and one in seven men experiencing violence at the hands of a partner in their lifetime, according to Kristie Paskvan, the founder of domestic violence charity Chicago Says No More. In Britain the figures are one in four women and one in six men.

Women's Aid is trialling a similar scheme to the Illinois initiative in areas of London, Brighton and East Sussex. Called "Ask Me," the domestic abuse charity trains people in service industries to spot and understand signs of domestic abuse, giving them the skills to respond appropriately to domestic abuse victims who reveal their situation, and training them in the most appropriate ways to offer support.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid in England, said:“Asking for help with domestic abuse is not easy. Women who report abuse do so five times on average before they get the support that they need. Early intervention and community support are vital tools in working to end domestic abuse.”

  • If you’re experiencing domestic abuse and are in immediate danger, always call 999
  • Refuge and Women's Aid runs a freephone 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247


amber heardd.jpg

Amber Heard pens powerful open letter about domestic violence

mariah carey.jpg

Mariah Carey on finding courage to leave emotionally abusive husband


The world's oldest person has called time on bulls**t since 1938


30 intricate and tiny cuticle tattoos to inspire your next inking

These are insanely beautiful

by Susan Devaney
18 Aug 2017

Model Winnie Harlow celebrates her “unique beauty” with a nude selfie

“Celebrate your unique beauty today (and everyday)!”

by Susan Devaney
18 Aug 2017

40 beautifully delicate and small helix tattoos to inspire you

It’s the cool new place to get your next inking

by Susan Devaney
17 Aug 2017

This is the £3 beauty product we’re buying every single second

Sacré bleu, we’re obsessed…

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Aug 2017

Caroline Flack’s chic brunette bob is giving us serious hair envy

She’s the latest star to work the crop

17 Aug 2017

10 Lush products to help you sleep, soothe anxiety and de-stress

Add these to your shopping list, stat

by Megan Murray
16 Aug 2017

Instagram is obsessed with these nostalgic noughties bath bombs

All your bath bomb dreams are about to come true

by Megan Murray
15 Aug 2017

Three DIY tricks for super-shiny hair

Get gloss on demand, using kitchen cupboard products

14 Aug 2017

Jennifer Aniston has shared her budget beauty trick with the world

“I’ve been using it since high school”

by Kayleigh Dray
11 Aug 2017

Soon you'll never run out of your favourite Lush products

We're total suckers for glittery bath water

by Megan Murray
10 Aug 2017