NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Beauty professionals in Tennessee will be required to undergo anti-domestic violence training starting in the new year.

Amy Hooper does hair for a living at Shear Heaven Salon in Madison. She understands how the salon becomes a safe haven for various conversations, including domestic violence.

"I've experienced a few clients who have been that way, and they've been really shy when the person would come in that was the abuser and, they would shut down instantly," Hooper said.

Hooper said the job of doing hair coincides with therapy sessions. She likes the idea of beauty professionals getting equipped with resources and noticing signs of domestic violence. Hooper is a domestic violence survivor, so she knows how hard it is for someone not to recognize a genuine issue.

"I've had people tell me you're being in an abusive situation," Hooper said. "And I was like no, no, because you don't think that you are."

Chaka Jackson has done hair for the last two decades. She agrees that the hair salon or barbershop is where clients feel comfortable talking. She's glad awareness and resources will be available for beauty professionals in Tennessee.

"We're like a therapist for our clients," Jackson said. "So, this would help us recognize signs. As far as physical or what a person may say and with that, it'll help us guide that person as to what's the next proper steps for that person to take who is in that type of situation."

This new law will take effect on Jan. 1. The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance and the state Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners are playing significant roles in launching this initiative, which will cost employees nothing.

Hooper recently participated in an anti-domestic violence course during a hair show in Florida. She hopes her words and knowledge will help one of her clients.

"It's scary, but it's important to see the tales that people show you so that you can help them," Hooper said. "Either give them a domestic violence number...kind of slip it in their pocket.... give it to them with your card...anything like that can help."

The legislation started with State Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin), Sen. Becky Massey (R-Knoxville), and the YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee.

"The COVID-19 pandemic showed that not everyone is safer at home," said Rep. Whitson in a press release with the TN Department of Commerce and Insurance. "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."

Barbicide, an international disinfectant maker, teamed up with YWCA to offer the Shear Haven Domestic Violence Training for salon owners and stylists. The training video details information and resources for participants to recognize the signs of domestic violence and successfully navigate conversations with clients who could be in danger.

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.

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