Trafficking survivors face many challenges when trying to rebuild their lives, but one challenge takes the form of a tattoo, glaring at them in the mirror and reminding them of their trauma. Many pimps demonstrate that a victim is their property by branding them with a tattoo, which usually includes things like his name, the gang name, “daddy,” a money-related symbol or “property of ________.”
Jennifer Kempton, a trafficking survivor who was branded three times by her exploiters, started Survivor’s Ink, an organization that helps trafficking victims debrand their bodies. The survivor gets to choose or create their own design, and a tattoo artist skillfully transforms the previous mark into a symbol of hope – a new beginning.
“I was so grateful to be alive, but having to look at these scars, you wonder if you’ll be anything else.”
One woman who receiving help from Kempton’s organization was relieved to finally put an end to the constant reminder of her past. She’d wear a Band-Aid on her arm to cover “a big area of dark shame” – a tattoo of a dollar sign with the words “Black Beauty.”
Read the full article here.
Check out some before and after pictures of tattoos here.
- Debranding is a great way for tattoo artists to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. If you’re a tattoo artist and this resonates with you, find a local aftercare organization and let them know you’d like to help.
- If you’d like to support Survivor’s Ink and fund a survivor’s debranding, you can make a donation here.