Evanston hairdressers to receive required training on domestic, sexual assault


(Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer) A hairstylist at Steven Papageorge Salon, 1721 Sherman Ave., shows a customer his cut. A new Illinois law will require hairstylists to take a training course on identifying signs of domestic and sexual assault.

Sam Krevlin, Reporter

Evanston hairdressers will be required to take a training course on identifying signs of domestic and sexual assault in order to renew or obtain a license after a statewide bill took effect on Jan 1. The course will also provide hairdressers with information on hotlines and other resources for victims.

Signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in August, the bill mandates an hourlong course that includes statistics about sexual and domestic violence, ways of recognizing signs of abuse and strategies to discuss the issue. Every two years, anyone licensed as a barber, cosmetologist, esthetician, hair braider or nail technician must take the class in order to renew their license. Although the bill doesn’t require hairdressers to intervene, it aims to educate them on places in the area to seek legal help.

“My wife used to work as a hairdresser and she frequently heard stories from her clients who were victims of domestic violence,” said Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), a sponsor of the legislation, said in an August statement. “Unfortunately, she didn’t have the knowledge or resources needed to help them. This new law will ensure that hairdressers will be trained to assist their clients who reach out to them for help.”

Kristie Paskvan, founder of Chicago Says No More, an organization dedicated to addressing domestic and sexual assault, said this bill is a step forward in spreading assault awareness. With more than 88,000 salon professionals in the state of Illinois, Paskvan said the training course can help salon workers provide their clients — many of whom they forge a lasting relationship with — resources and educated support if they are experiencing assault.

“There is a relationship that is built up over time,” Paskvan said. “It is a group of people that are literally grooming you. They want you to look good and sometimes they become involved in their clients’ personal lives.”

The ultimate goal, Paskvan said, is not necessarily intervention, but fostering a safe space for conversation at salons. She said giving hairdressers proper information about hotlines and other available resources is critical.

Not all hairdressers are content with the latest law, however. Analie Papageorge, owner of Steven Papageorge Salon, 1721 Sherman Ave., doesn’t believe the law is practical.

Papageorge said she does believe the law has good intentions and understands its benefits in certain instances when close relationships are made between a beautician and their client. But besides those instances, Papageorge said she doesn’t understand why hairdressers in particular are required to undergo the training.

“It is the right thing to do regardless if you have someone who was in that type of situation,” she said. “However, I don’t feel with the relationships we have today it will be practiced.”

Papageorge said she recognizes the importance and relevance of sexual assault training for her salon, which is situated only a block from Northwestern’s campus. Northwestern students provide a large client base to Papageorge’s salon, she said, and could see how Steven Papageorge hairdressers could employ the training to help students that might have experienced assault or sexual violence.

For Paskvan, she said she hopes other workplaces will institute a similar educational program in the coming years. While there is still more work to be done throughout industries, Paskvan said she is still happy that there will be thousands of workers who will receive this education.

“If you have 88,000 people taking this course, that is 88,000 people that have the ability to share a little information with their family, friends, and clients,” Paskvan said.

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Twitter: @samkrevlin