NYS bill looks to offer domestic violence training to beauty industry professionals

Regional News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — If approved, a new state law would put the cosmetology industry on the front lines of domestic violence prevention.

A Syracuse salon owner thinks this could help her and her clients.

Jacquie Grabowski has been working in the hair industry for 15 years and she’s seen just about everything in her chair.

“I’ve had some pretty scary situations happen where I have had to try and seek help other places and I’ve actually not found it,” said Grabowski. “More recently I did call a suicide hotline for a client and I was directed to call the police, so they really didn’t give me much guidance on that.”

The proposed bill would help Grabowski better help her clients, by giving her the right resources.

It would amend the general business law and give beauty industry professionals the option to take a domestic violence and sexual assault training course when they renew their license.

Senate Bill S96, sponsored by Senator Todd Kaminsky, states that the courses would be offered at least annually. Those who take at least one hour of domestic violence and sexual assault education would receive a certificate of completion.

The law, however, would not require beauty professionals to report incidents to police.

The training would also not be mandatory, but those at Element on Water in downtown Syracuse would likely be opting in.

“We have a lot of stuff put on us and we’re also trying to make them beautiful, so we also want to be able to have a safe place within ourselves to kind of like chat about it, digest it, and figure out within each other,” said Grabowski.

After hours of working with clients, hairstylists, estheticians, and other beauty professionals gain their trust.

“You just don’t know what to say sometimes,” said Grabowski, referring to when the conversation turns serious or dangerous.

During the 2018 calendar year, the New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline documented 7,696 calls related to domestic violence and sexual assault alone.

“One out of 10 people can be affected and will be affected in their lifetime,” said Chris Benton at Vera House, about domestic violence.

Benton says disclosing abuse can be scary and it’s important victims have support.

The connection Grabowski makes with her clients is one she calls special. She wants to give them help when they need it, she just wants to make sure she’s saying the right things.

“To say like, this is a safe space, you’re able to talk about this, you’re brave for being able to talk about this,” said Grabowski. “Make that person feel like they’re worth something.”

The proposed bill is still in the Consumer Protection Senate Committee.

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