Odessa, Texas (Nexstar) – House Bill 404, proposed during the 87th legislative session, would require hairstylists and cosmetologists to take a domestic violence and sexual assault awareness course as a part of their license renewal process.
This has to do with the fact that so many people vent to their stylists and confide in them for advice.
“There’s an unspoken privacy there, and trust. They talk to us about a lot of things and they have a lot of trust in us after everything we’ve done for them, especially our long-term clients,” said Shaina Harlow, a licensed cosmetologist at La Belle Salon & Boutique.
Elizabeth Teixeira with the Crisis Center of West Texas says hairstylists and cosmetologists can be the best people to spot a victim of abuse because they can see changes in their client over a period of time and sometimes they’re the only person an abuser will let them see.
She says that making a domestic violence and sexual assault awareness course mandatory could help in saving victims across the state.
“For someone to know there are people out there that will listen to them, validate them, and affirm that there are people out there that can help and know next steps, can be life-saving,” said Teixeira.
Right now the Crisis Center of West Texas does have voluntary training programs for people in the beauty industry who want a better idea of how to deal with their clients’ problems, and Teixeira says it’s been a huge help for participants.
“The biggest feedback I get from clients is ‘I heard this in the past and I didn’t know what to say, and now I feel like if it comes up again I would know what to say’ and that’s comforting to them.”
Harlow says her clients are like family and disclose very personal information to her, so she would welcome the course.
“I would not hesitate at all to have that kind of knowledge. Because if there’s a situation that comes up I would like to say ‘Here’s a phone number you can call. If you’re too scared to call the number I can do it.”
The bill passed unanimously through the Texas House and now it will go to the Senate. If passed there, it’ll become a law on September 21st, 2021. Read more about the bill here.