By Corinne Sanders April 27, 2019
Tattoos are meant to hold special meaning. But for some, the ink adorning their bodies only serves as a painful reminder of the trauma they’ve endured.
The dark reality is that many survivors of violence were forced into getting tattoos. In a show of dominance, human traffickers, abusive partners, and gang members leave a permanent mark on their victims’ bodies — often in the form of tattoos. Even after they escape, the victims are left with the terrible keepsake given to them against their will. But that’s where an angel of a woman comes in.ADVERTISING
Stephanie Andresen-Stephens is the owner of Brilliant Bodywork, a spa in Onalaska, Wisconsin. She’s also the founder of Restorative Ink, a nonprofit organization committed to helping people erase the scars from their past. Stephanie is passionate about giving victims a fresh start and does so by using a Picoway laser to remove their tattoos at a discount — or even for free.
“When someone like myself chooses to go get a tattoo, we spend time and dedication going and designing it and telling our story… we’re doing it of our own free will,” Stephanie explained, adding that the same can’t be said for the abuse survivors she helps.
Stephanie has already removed dozens of tattoos, and she isn’t slowing down. She’s also starting to do the same for felons who want to turn their lives around after prison.
For some, it takes around six to 12 sessions to get rid of the ink, but it’s more than worth the effort. One of Stephanie’s current clients, a woman named Tara, is excited to finally move on from what her abuser put her through.
“I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to be able to take my power back. He kind of took power away from me, in the time that we were together in the things that he did to me,” Tara said. “He broke me down… and Stephanie doing this for me is going to build me back up again.”
Way to use your expertise for good, Stephanie! This means so much to every single person whose life she’s changing.
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