When we think of a job that requires close interaction with others and solving their problems, we’ll usually go right to therapists, psychologists, or social workers. These professionals sit with dozens of patients all day long tending to their issues.
But there’s one more unexpected career that does something similar: a hairstylist. While a stylist’s main focus is of course cutting, dying, or styling their clients’ hair, they also tend to be the ear for many of these people, who will sometimes find themselves opening up about things going on in their life if they feel comfortable (a lot of the time, they do).
“Being able to help them feel beautiful in your chair, but also be there to support them and just be someone that’s understanding of what they’re going through,” said Allie Jackson, hairstylist at KM Hair Works and Spa.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the client feels they’re safe telling someone outside their friend circle about a certain problem. Perhaps it’s that they feel this person understands them (since they understand how to make them look beautiful). Whatever the case may be, many people find comfort in opening up to a hairdresser.
That’s why a law is taking effect to require all beauty professionals to take part in Highlights of Hope, a domestic violence training program through Northern Kentucky University’s Norse Violence Prevention center, in order to get their license. Additionally, those who already have their license will need to take the training on in order to renew their license.
The training, which is one hour long, will be useful in training hairstylists and other beauty professionals not only how to recognize whether someone is going through domestic violence or sexual assault, but how to support clients who have gone through domestic violence. They’ll learn the right (and wrong) things to say to clients who open up about their experience with it.
“There’s a big stigma with domestic violence, and we don’t talk about things that make us uncomfortable. The whole purpose of this training is to make people feel comfortable, to make them feel like they can have this conversation and be educated about it,” said Taylor Zumwalt, a student in NKU’s Master of Social Work program, who founded the program.
The sad, scary truth is about 20 Americans suffer some form of domestic violence every single minute, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, with about 25% of all US women to suffer abuse at some point in their lives.
This training is just one of the many actions being put in place to help bring an end to this wretched act.
“In most of these situations there are signs early on, and I hope to train as many people as I can to recognize those signs and be empowered to act,” Zumwalt says. “That’s where the name comes from—it’s about highlighting hope for people in seemingly hopeless situations.”
To hear more about the program from the owner herself, check out the video below.
What do you think of the mission behind Highlights for Hope?