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Hair Stylists Hope to Help Abuse Victims

Hair Stylists Hope to Help Abuse Victims

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Tonya Papanikolas ReportingNearly one-third of American women report being abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. To help victims, today Utah's Attorney General debuted a new program called "Cut it Out."

Hair stylists do a lot more than just cutting and coloring peoples' hair. Their job also involves abundant listening.

Paula Dahlberg, Salon Keiji Cosmetologist: "We do hear a lot of intimate things. A lot of times we feel our jobs are 85-percent therapists and the rest is hair stylists."

So Utah's attorney general figured, why not teach Utah's cosmetologists how to use this relationship to help on the issue of domestic violence.

Mark Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General: "When it comes to abuse, sometimes only her hair dresser knows for sure."

Paula Dahlberg: "It's hard sometimes because we do hear stories, and then we just let our clients walk out - and we're the ones that feel so helpless in that."

Under the "Cut it Out" program, trainers will visit salons and beauty schools to teach stylists how to recognize abuse and then get help. One thing a hairstylist can look for is physical knots or bruises on the client's head. But that's not the only warning sign.

Judy Kasten Bell, Utah Domestic Violence Council: "Whether or not they have been isolated from family and friends over the past recent time."

LuJean Tatton, Nat'l Cosmetology Association of Utah: "Sometimes it's just having a significant other sitting in a chair off in the background, telling the stylist how to do that person's hair."

Vicky Doherty is familiar with the controlling attitude. She left an abusive husband after he beat her unconscious with a telephone receiver.

Vicky Doherty: "It started out with possessiveness, jealous, he was very jealous. I couldn't wear makeup, couldn't wear perfume, couldn't dress a certain way."

She says stylists can also look out for a change in behavior.

Vicky Doherty: "I was distraught, very very quiet, very depressed."

Doherty says she's happy to hear victims will now have this special program to help "cut" down on abuse. For those afraid to get help, that trusted stylist may just be the support they need.

Utah is the 16th state to implement the "Cut it Out" program. In the next week or two, training will begin at cosmetology schools. Domestic violence officials eventually hope to train all the 25-thousand licensed cosmetologists in Utah.

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