NASHVILLE – Domestic violence is a national life-threatening crisis that destroys lives and families. The effects of domestic violence are especially devastating in Tennessee as nearly half of all crimes are domestic violence related, figures show.
To help save the lives of domestic violence victims, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance and the state Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners are playing crucial roles in launching an initiative created to train Tennessee’s 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.
“Tennessee’s beauty professionals are caring, compassionate individuals who are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all their customers, but may not know how to respond when confronted with domestic violence,” said Board Executive Director Roxana Gumucio. “Most domestic violence victims will not report abuse to law enforcement, but they will tell someone with whom they have a long-standing relationship, such as a cosmetologist or barber. Tennessee beauty professionals have a unique position to help identify domestic violence and assist victims.”
Starting January 1, 2022, a 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. Licensees are not required to become mandatory domestic violence reporters. Licensees have between 2022-2024 to complete the approved training. Students and instructors in cosmetology schools will need to certify they have taken the training before receiving their license.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance worked closely with state Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin) and Sen. Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) along with YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee to create the legislation. Similar laws exist in just a handful of states, including Illinois and Arkansas.
Said Whitson, “The COVID-19 pandemic showed that not everyone is safer at home. I’m proud to have sponsored this legislation and equally proud of the vast majority of my colleagues for recognizing the crisis of domestic violence and acting to make positive change in our laws. While we had to wait a full year before we could get this measure passed, we have a much better and stronger law because of the pandemic.”
To assist the educational efforts, international disinfectant maker Barbicide teamed up with YWCA to offer the Shear Haven Domestic Violence Training for salon owners and stylists. The training video 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.
Sharon K. Roberson, President & CEO of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, said, “We have been working to educate and end domestic violence in our community for more than four decade. This new law is an excellent step in reducing a crime that impacts one in four women and one in seven men in the U.S. We’re grateful for the support of our elected officials at taking steps to end this crisis.”If you or someone you know has questions about domestic violence or needs shelter, please call YWCA’s 24-Hour Crisis & Support Helpline at 800-334-4628 or TEXT 615-983-5170.