NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee is joining a growing list of states to require cosmetologists and barbers to be trained in domestic violence.

Susanne Post, Co-founder of Shear Haven, is a Nashville-based salon owner and stylist and says often times victims have a long-standing relationship with their stylist, someone they see on a regular basis.

Post is a survivor of domestic violence and has made it her commitment to educate the community on the signs of abuse and to identify resources available to help women and men who are victims.

“With my years of experience in the industry as a stylist, coupled with being a survivor of domestic abuse, it just hit me, it was something we had to have in Tennessee,” explained Post.

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Starting January 1, 2022, the new law will require licensed Tennessee beauty professionals to complete up to one hour of anti-domestic violence training either in-person or online, at no cost.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘I can’t believe I just said this,’ or ‘I’ve never told someone this before,’ and so the isolation component that is pretty prevalent with abuse, puts us in such a special position to see what’s going on in people’s lives,” said Post.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance and the state Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners launched an initiative, created to train over 50,000 licensed beauty professionals, to recognize the signs of abuse, how to respond appropriately, and what resources are available to assist domestic violence victims.

“From a woman’s standpoint, you sit in a chair, you lean back, the cosmetologist has the whole view of your neck, and your head, everything where a lot of abuse occurs,” said House Representative Rebecca Alexander, “When we have the opportunity to be seen by another pair of eyes, and another pair of hands, that could possibly help a woman whose crying out for help, why would we not pass the bill?”

The domestic violence education program equips stylists with the knowledge and resources to recognize the signs of domestic violence, successfully navigate conversations with clients who may be in danger and pass along tools that can help them get to safety. It has been a major initiative of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee.

YWCA operates one of the largest domestic violence shelters in Middle Tennessee. They say the number of calls to Domestic Violence help-lines increased during the COVID-19 lockdown, which is why they say stylists are in an ideal position to identify physical signs of abuse.

“Often you’ll see scalp irritations, you’ll see bruise under the scalp, you’ll see things that a person who wasn’t up close and personal would not be able to recognize,” said Sharon Roberson, President and CEO of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, “To have the tools necessary to provide information, to provide that handoff.”

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A few months into the pandemic, Barbcide teamed up with Post and the YWCA to offer the Shear Haven training online. To date, more than 23,000 beauty professionals from around the world have taken the training.

Examples of abusive tendencies include the following, outlined by the YWCA:

  • Telling the victim that they can never do anything right
  • Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away
  • Accusing the victim of cheating
  • Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family
  • Controlling who the victim sees, where they go, or what they do.

Need help? Have questions? You can call the anonymous confidential 24/7 Crisis & Support Helpline at 1-800-334-4628 or TEXT (615) 983-5170.