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Local hairstylists want to cut hair and domestic violence

A new state law in Illinois is helping hairdressers cut more than just hair.

It's the first legislation of its kind, requiring cosmetologists of sorts to be trained on how to help protect their clients from domestic violence.

Starting in 2017, the new law requires licensed beauty professionals to take one-hour of training on domestic violence and sexual assault. In Illinois, that class will be required every two years to renew their license.

Right now, it's only law in Illinois, but hairstylists in Asheville say they want it to go nationwide.

Hairstylists say they're already a jack of many trades, including therapy in some cases.

"Without it even being a legitimate job title, it is our job title. We help people feel good about themselves," Emily Gibbs, a designer at Aabani Salon, said.

Designers at Aabani Salon in Biltmore Village say they have heard their clients open up about any and everything.

"We establish relationships where they tell us things that they might not even tell their friends," Joshua Kisselburg, another designer at Aabani Salon, said.

"I felt such a burden because I didn't know how to help them other than being a shoulder to cry on and an ear for them to talk to," Gibbs said.

It's not hard to believe that trust is built quickly between hairstylists and clients because their relationship also becomes intimate quickly.

"There's not many professions where you physically touch people," Gibbs said. "And when you do, people really connect with you and they will tell you anything."

Since they're already scratching the surface by listening, local hairstylists want the training to take it a step further.

"If we could pick up on those signs and help people out, we could save a life and that would be great," Kisselburg said.

The training will teach licensed beauty professionals how to identify signs of domestic violence and also how to connect clients to service providers.

The idea is to equip hairstylists with the resources they need in order to help.

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