Norwich hair salon will train its staff to spot the signs of domestic abuse, after being inspired by a new law passed in Illinois this year. Rachel Buck, the owner of Beau Hair and Beauty in Norwich, said the bond between a hairdresser and their client put them in a unique position to be able to spot signs of abuse and offer help.

Now hairdressers at Buck's salon will undergo specialist training with local domestic abuse charity, Leeway, to be able to spot the signs of abuse in clients and provide signposting to relevant help and support. Signs staff could look out for included things like frequently missing appointments or wearing clothing that seemed inappropriate such as long sleeves on a hot day, to cover bruises, Buck told the Eastern Daily Press.

Speaking to the BBC, Buck, 30, said: "Clients and hairdressers tend to build up a special relationship and they tend to discuss lots of aspects of their lives – it's a relationship that's built on a lot of trust."

In addition to this, Buck said a hairdresser may be the only place a woman experiencing domestic violence may be on her own and in a position to reach out for help.

She said: "Even at a doctors surgery someone might not be able to be alone, away from their abuser. But here it's just the hairdresser and client, there's no one hanging around listening."

Buck said she had been inspired by a law passed in Illinois earlier this year which requires hairdressers to undergo training to spot signs of domestic abuse. The move was supported by state senator Bill Cunningham whose wife, a former hairstylist, spoke often of the clients she encountered who would open up about abuse.

One in three women in the UK suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime, as well as one in five men. Additionally, two women are killed every week by a partner or ex-partner in England – half of all murders of women in the UK are perpetrated by their partner or ex-partner.

Buck, who herself once worked for Leeway, said: "Anything we can do to support people, even if we just help one person, is brilliant."

What are the signs of domestic abuse?

Though abuse can take many forms, according to the domestic abuse charity Refuge, key signs to look out for include:

  • Jealousy and possessiveness of a partner
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Sudden mood changes by a partner from charming to abusive
  • Controlling of aspects of a partner's life such as money, who they see and what they wear
  • Victim changes their behaviour to appease the abuser
  • A partner monitors movements
  • The victim is blamed for abuse
  • The victim is humiliated, belittled or criticised in front of others
  • Verbal abuse
  • Anger and intimidation are used to frighten the victim and make them compliant
  • Threats of violence against the victim or those close to them
  • Forced sexual activity

Source: Refuge