Stylists now on front lines of cutting back domestic violence

    A salon is a place where you can let your hair down, but it's also a place victims of domestic violence often let down their guard and confide in stylists. <p>Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is sending out informational booklets to help direct those victims to services that can help.{/p}

    Jess High owns Urban Vintage Salon and Spa in Marion. Her job involves close contact and human connections, which can sometimes open up deep conversations during deep conditioning.

    "Usually some really personal things come up because of that relationship, you become very close to your clients," she says.

    She's even helped clients living in abusive situations, which is why she's excited Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is pushing out informational pamphlets as part of the "Safe at Home" program.

    "The idea behind it is that a salon is a safe space for a client to go where they are free from their abuser," High says.

    The Secretary of State’s office will mail 2,500 booklets to salons across the state. Among magazines and hair books, the 16-page guide will provide information on starting a conversation and offering support to victims.

    "It breaks down how to support someone and resources available to victims of domestic violence," says Nelly Hill, who is director of domestic violence victims services at Waypoint in Cedar Rapids.

    She says the booklet is a great first step to getting domestic violence victims connected to resources.

    "Domestic violence service programs provide safe, free, confidential support where we can safety plan and talk about options."

    She adds it’s important not to persuade victims to leave – lethality of an abusive situation goes up when a victim tries to change the situation – but to instead be an empathetic listener.

    At Urban Vintage, staff has been trained on what to look for: big signs like bruising or smaller behavioral changes like isolation or fearfulness. Bruises and marks may not always be present if the abuse is financial, emotional, or psychological.

    Jess says they’ve worked with Waypoint before.

    "We've talked about things, but just having that extra bit of education and having a pamphlet to hand out to a client I think would be even more persuasive for someone to get help."

    You can view an online version of the “Someone You Know Needs Help” booklet here.

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