Take a minute and think about the women you love. The odds are that one out of four of them will be a victim of domestic violence. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says nearly 108,000 Floridians reported such abuse in 2015.
To cut out the ugly violence, one state is now enlisting the help of beauty professionals. A new law in Illinois this year says hairstylists, barbers, cosmetologists and nail techs must complete an hour of abuse-prevention training as part of the licensing process. The law does not require them to report any actual violence, and it shelters them from any liability.
The law aims to take advantage of the trusting relationship established between a stylist and client. 10News is asking the state why the same program isn’t happening in Florida to help victims.
“There's probably not a circumstance that we haven't heard that a counselor hasn't,” says stylist Steffeny Linn at Dash Salon in Tampa.
Linn says stylists listen to the good and bad happening in their clients’ lives. She supports Illinois' new domestic violence training law, since the program arms stylists with the tools they need to see the warning signs and get victims to the right resources.
“Why wouldn't you want to help someone, especially your client?" she says. "You have a relationship with them."
Local domestic violence includes survivors like Courtney Weil. She escaped a nightmare more than 20 years ago.
“The last time he beat me, he took my head and smashed it repeatedly into his knee,” she says.
A co-worker recognized the abuse, referring Weil to The Spring's Crisis Hotline, 813-247-SAFE (7233). They came up with a safety plan to get her and her daughters to the shelter.
“I had cracks down the side of my skull.I had two babies, one in each arm. We had absolutely nothing and went out the window,” says Weil.
The Spring tells 10News that it does domestic violence training with stylists as requested. But it hasn't been since 2004 that Florida funded a state-wide effort. Then, the Cut Out Domestic Violence program was voluntary.
So why isn't Florida doing more now? 10News reached out to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees licenses. A spokesperson vows to address the concern at the Board of Cosmetology's next meeting.
The training for stylists and guidance for victims that can't come fast enough.
“It's not your fault, and there is help out there,” says Weil.
The Spring tells 10News that everyone can watch for the warning signs of domestic abuse: is someone afraid of their partner or under their power and control? You can look for signs of jealousy, isolation or physical abuse.
The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a 24/7 statewide hotline: 1-800-500-1119. Services include support and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and their friends and family. Hotline advocates connect survivors to their local certified center for shelter, support groups, outreach and ongoing advocacy.”
Here are some of the shelters in the Tampa Bay area:
The Spring, Tampa: 813-247-SAFE (7233)
CASA, St. Petersburg: 727-895-4912
The Haven, Clearwater: 727-442-4128
Salvation Army, Hudson: 727-856-5797
Sunrise, Dade City: 352-521-3120
HOPE Family Services: 941-755-6805
Peace River Center: 863-413-2700