Pilot program trains hair stylists to recognize domestic abuse

ELKHART, Ind. -- One in every four women will fall victim to abuse. The Elkhart Women’s Shelter has started a pilot program called Cut it Out to train hair stylists to recognize the signs of abuse.

While in a stylists chair, getting their hair done, women chat about their lives. The shelter hopes to use that relationship between stylist and client to get women the help they need.

"They basically told us step by step- this is how you find out what situations people are in and this is what you can do,” said Kesha Eicher, owner of Express Yourself Salon and Day Spa.

Eicher and her employees just received training from the Elkhart Women's Shelter.

"We are not asking our stylists to become counselors, but rather just recognize and address the situations as they come to them,” said Carrie Zickefoose, shelter director of the Elkhart County Women’s Shelter.

The program "cut it out," adopted by the local women's shelter, takes advantage of the stylist-client relationship.

"We get to know our clients really, really well and I've been doing some people's hair for 5-6 years and so that really makes a difference when you get to know someone,” said Eicher.

Her employees openly embraced the added training.

"A great thing to learn about how we can address the situation and at least guide them in the right direction,” said Kristin Marner, stylist at Express Yourself Salon and Day Spa.

The training is only an hour long- but it offers ways stylists can take action in just three steps.

"How to recognize domestic violence, how to respond appropriately, and how to refer clients safely to the Elkhart County Women’s shelter. If we've done that we've succeeded,” said Zickefoose.

The Elkhart County Women's Shelter is looking for more salons to participate since things are going so well with the pilot program.

The salon doesn't have to be in Elkhart County. They want to help women all across the Michiana area.

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