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Iowa salons look for warning signs of domestic violence

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Iowa hair stylists are being put on the fore front of spotting signs of domestic violence and it all starts the minute a client sits in the chair.

For most men and women, a hair salon is place to feel pampered. But at Bella Salon in Davenport, stylists are taking things one step further by turning time in the chair into an opportunity to open up.

Katherine Newberry is the owner of Bella Salon and has been a stylist for 24 years. She said her clients share more personal things with her than they do with close friends and family.

"We - dealing with their hair - are in a very personal space and with being in that space it allows them to knock down those walls," Newberry said.

That safe space allowing clients to open up about things like domestic violence. Kailey McDaniel, a hairstylist at Bella Salon, said her profession makes her an ideal watchdog for signs of abuse.

"You'll hear little remarks over your relationship and overtime that indicates that maybe they don't feel safe at home," McDaniel said.

For Newberry, domestic violence is a topic she feels passionately about and it hits close to home.

"I have a friend that went through domestic violence as well as another guest that went through it, and watching them go through it, I wanted to learn a little bit more," Newberry said.

In December 2018, the Iowa Secretary of State's Office sent salons across Iowa this pamphlet. Inside it shows stylists how to approach clients who may be dealing with abuse and how to direct them to get help.

"We're one of the few licenses that not only allows us to have physical contact with our client but actually mandates it. In order for us to do our job like I have to touch you," McDaniel said. "It kind of makes me feel honored that we're members of the community that were thought of in this kind of movement to help end domestic violence."

In 2017, Illinois passed a law requiring licensed hair stylists to complete abuse prevention training when they renew their cosmetology licenses.

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