Proposed bill wants hair stylist’s chair to be the new front against domestic violence

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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - For some, the hair stylist’s chair is a symbol of self-care, but for many victims of domestic violence, it can be a refuge.

“You think about when you sitting in a chair, getting something done personally to your physical being. I mean, you talk,” said Kathy Tortoreo, director of crisis services at Family Support Services.

That’s why state representative Ana Hernandez believes individuals in the profession can help in the fight against domestic violence and sexual assault.

She presented House Bill 404, which would require hair stylists and cosmetologists to take a mandatory sexual assault and domestic violence awareness course.

“It gives that cosmetology, that stylist the opportunity to say, ‘Yeah you have a big bump on your head is everything okay?’ So, if the have information on what domestic violence looks like, what violent behavior and victim’s go through, they can open those conversations,” said Tortoreo.

The new training would be part of the existing continuing education curriculum, which already includes lessons on identifying signs of human trafficking.

Gabriela Mendez, senior district leader at Smartstyle Hair Salon says she is in favor of the bill.

She mentioned clients often share their stories and to be able to recognize signs of abuse would be helpful.

“At some point we are like counselors, because they confide in us,” said Mendez.

The legislation would make training mandatory for license renewal, something some local hairstylists find unnecessary.

“I don’t think it should be required,” said Desiree Soto, hair stylist. “I feel like we’re so in tune with the people in our chair that if they were in danger, if they needed help, I feel like we could kind of keen into that and kind of know.”

The bill successfully passed out of a house committee last week.

It now sits with the calendars committee, which may or may not push it to the full house for debate.

“Violence against people is just a constant problem,” said Tortoreo. “Having a mandated training just gives the opportunity for some structure specific type training. They may be very aware of things in their community but they may not know additional information.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, you can call family support services 24 hours hot line at (806) 374-5433.

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