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Proposed bill would train hair stylists how to help domestic abuse victims

bill has passed in TN Senate, House will vote Mon.
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Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 21:27:30-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — While styles come and go, Liza DeCamp's hairstylist has been a constant for more than 15 years.

"Alright Liza, tell me what we’re doing," said Shana Hoy, owner of Harlow Salon on Music Row. "Something different? Okay, perfect."

These two have confided a lot since DeCamp first became a client in 2006. "You feel comfortable and you want to be able to share with what’s going on in your life," said DeCamp.

They've talked about moments they'll never forget, and the ones they wish they could. "When I was a teenager I had a boyfriend that was abusive," said DeCamp.

It's been decades since Liza was trapped in a dangerous relationship, but she's still grateful someone close to her, helped her get out. "I never believed that I deserved to have anyone better in my life. I was very insecure," she admits.

For many, that close confidant can end up being their hairstylist.

"Yea clients open up to you and tell you about -- things that are happening in their home," said Hoy.

That's why the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee is championing a proposed bill that would make it mandatory for cosmetology professionals like Shana to go through training about the warning signs for domestic violence. "Whether there’s been hair pulled out, whether there’s bruising around the neck, that’s a huge piece. Being able to see the signs, the physical signs," said Michelle Mowrey Johnson, Senior Director of Communications for the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

The class would show stylists the available resources that they could then pass along to their customers in need. "How to refer a client to resources, it’s not a mandatory reporting bill," said Johnson.

Unlike doctors, stylists wouldn't be required to report what they've heard. Their main focus would be sharing resources with those who need it.

The bill calls for up to an hour's worth of training, but the YWCA actually has a program online that you can complete on your own time, and takes less than 25 minutes. Anyone can complete the training. You can access it here.

"If we had the resources to give to people, I think that would be wonderful," said Hoy.

Hoy says she already loves the idea, because the only thing more important than her client's style, is their safety. "I say my client but I really mean my friend," said Hoy.

The Tennessee Senate passed the bill unanimously. Members of the Tennessee House are scheduled to vote on the measure on Monday.

If you or someone who needs help, the YWCA's Domestic Violence Hotline is 800–334–4628. You can also send a text to 615–983–5170.