A new Illinois law, implemented on January 1, 2017, requires domestic violence education training for those who wish to work in the beauty industry. This is a requirement that is above-and-beyond the typical hair styling and pampering.


The law states that “A person seeking licensure as a barber, cosmetologist, esthetician, hair braider, or nail technician must graduate from both domestic violence and sexual assault education.”

Crystal Giesbrecht is the Director of Research and Communications for the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS). She believes that having this training in Canada isn’t “too much to ask.” Crystal clarifies that she does not expect that beauty professionals will become experts on domestic violence; however, being able to recognize the signs, offer a supportive response, and connect their client to help will make a huge difference.

Typically, salons are viewed as a safe space where people can go without suspicion. “Beauty salons are in a unique position to get information out to women who are experiencing domestic violence.”

Cut It Out

The Cut It Out program was introduced to southwestern Ontario, funded by the Neighbours, Friends, and Families program out of Western University. The Cut It Out program works with salons and hairdressers to fight back against violence.

Barb MacQuarrie is the Community Director at the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children at Western University.

Barb comments, “Of all the work that I’ve done, it (Cut It Out) met with the most enthusiastic response. Immediately, people seemed to make the connection between the close relationship that clients have with their hairstylist or esthetician and the way the conversations happen with a lot of ease… a place where women are often alone and able to talk.”

Image from Cut It Out

Arlene Morell, with 30 years of experience in the salon industry, is the Program Coordinator and Trainer for Cut It Out. Arlene says that, “We develop a very unique relationship with our clients and it’s based on a high level of trust that’s very different than the relationship they have with their friends or their family because it’s a relationship of non-judgment.”

“Just letting your client know you care and that there’s community services available tot hem was oftentimes the piece that would make the difference in their lives.”

However, due to a lack of funding, the Cut It Out program is now on hold.

Abuse in Rural Areas

It can be much more difficult for residents in rural areas to find resources and support for domestic abuse. Fortunately, it is almost guaranteed that a small town will have at least once beautician.

Crystal Giesbrecht says, “We have so many communities where it’s a 2-3 hour drive to somewhere that might have a counselling agency or shelter. We know there’s a hairdresser in every town. If training was mandatory… that would be huge.”


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