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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • New Year's law

  • Cosmetologists get trained on domestic violence
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  • A law that mandates those licensed in the cosmetology field take a domestic violence prevention and recognition training class that began Jan. 1 makes sense to Katrina Cerutti of Harrisburg.
    When she was 20 years old, she was the victim of domestic abuse.
    “I broke an ironing board with my head – I'll put it that way,” Cerutti, owner and hairstylist at CURLEQ salon, 800 W. Poplar St. in Harrisburg, said. “At that time, I didn't know what alcohol abuse was or what domestic violence was.”
    That's why she supported passage of the amendment to the Barber, Cosmetology, Hair Braiding and Nail Technology Act of 1985 that requires stylists, cosmetologists, estheticians, barbers, hair braiders and nail technicians to take one hour of mandated domestic violence prevention and recognition training as part of the process to receive a license.
    The law requires an hour-long course every two years in domestic abuse and sexual assault education and support when seeking a license or renewing a license. If a licensed professional does not complete the training, their license may not be renewed.
    Cerutti grew up in Eldorado, then spent a number of years in Chicago before returning to Saline County. Because of her experience, she has always done what she could to help other women.
    “Before this law was passed, I would keep pamphlets in my restroom so if clients saw them and were in that situation, they might be able to get help,” she said.
    The pamphlets were from the national organization Cut It Out, a group of cosmetology professionals dedicated to removing people from domestic abuse situations.
    She also ran a fundraiser for both the Anna Bixby Women's Center in Harrisburg and Cut It Out a couple of years ago. She donated all her earnings from one Saturday – most often the most profitable day of a hairstylist's week – equally between the groups.
    She said she has seen signs of domestic violence fairly regularly through the years.
    When she opened her location in Harrisburg eight years ago, a young woman who cleaned for her showed up to work one day with two black eyes.
    “It's not only in the big cities, it's everywhere,” she said.
    Cerutti said the nature of the business makes it more comfortable for women to share stories they might not otherwise.
    Other stylists agree.
    “People do talk to us about a little bit of everything,” stylist Kayla White said. An employee at Hair Gypsies in the Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion, White said that she thought the law was a good idea, but she expressed concerns over certain requirements.
    “People will talk to us about all types of stuff, but in that situation, their (the client's) man is sitting right there,” White said. White pointed out that many clients either don’t feel comfortable talking about an issue like domestic violence or sexual abuse in public to a stylist.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I think it’s great to have it as an option,” White said. “I think it’s great for people who haven’t been in that situation to learn about it and see, not only for your clients, but for your family and friends.”
    Cuong Lam, a manicurist and manager at California Pro Nails in Marion, said that he has never had a client discuss a domestic violence issue before.
    "We run this business, and we want our customers to be happy," he said. Lam has worked as a manicurist for 15-16 years.
    The law does not make those it covers submit a report to the authorities. Rather, it trains stylists in ways to provide resources and tools to clients if the matter arises. The law also shields stylists and others from liability.
    “I would love to help people with that situation,” White, a survivor of domestic violence, said, “But I just don’t think we should be forced to take a class. It should be an option.”
    While the law went into effect on Sunday, the state has not yet developed a curriculum for the class.
    For more information, visit www.batteredwomensnetwork.org.
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