Removing Tattoos to Help Abuse Victims Heal

"I was in an extremely high-violent marriage for five years." This survivor had the name of her abusive ex-husband tattooed on her neck — and she's finally getting it removed thanks to a nonprofit at no cost.

Taking back the past

Stephanie Andresen-Stevens helps abuse survivors heal by removing reminders of their painful past. She removes tattoos for free through her nonprofit Restorative Ink. Andresen-Stevens who has owned the award-winning Onalaska massage therapy, skin care and spa business for over a decade, launched Restorative Ink, a discounted or free tattoo removal service for human trafficking or domestic violence victims or former gang members with affiliation markings.

This anonymous client is getting a tattoo of her abusive ex-husband’s name removed. She asked Brut to hide her identity so he can’t find her. Stevens takes the safety of survivors seriously by protecting their identities. Stevens is based in Wisconsin, but she wants to expand Restorative Ink’s services throughout the U.S. — where more than 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience Physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking by an intimate partner according to CDC.

Andresen-Stevens was introduced to the concept six years ago during a trip to Denver for a laser company event. There, she met organizers and members of the Jails to Jobs program, lending her hand at removing the tattoos that could harm their chances at employment. Andresen-Stevens, who invested $250,000 in the PicoWay laser tattoo removal machine and spent an additional $10,000 on training and certifications, reached out to organizations — including New Horizons, the La Crosse Task Force to End Modern Slavery, First Free Church and local social workers and parole officers — for referrals of those who may need Restorative Ink’s services. She has so far provided tattoo removal solutions to over a dozen people between the ages of 25 to 55, the bulk of them being women. Andresen-Stevens says she has gotten letters from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, with survivor inmates bearing gang affiliation tattoos on their faces, hands or arms hoping to take advantage of the empowering Restorative Ink services upon release.


06/08/2019 12:00 PM
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  • Yolanda C.
    2 days

    Thank you

  • Marcos L.
    2 days

    Since theres 2 sides to every story., I would like to hear his side... men gets mentally physically and emotionally abused as well.. but we are told to Man Up!..

  • Lillie F.
    3 days

    So thankful to you both that you do this for these victims I being a survivor of abuse myself truly know how humility plays a big part in their recovery and in being able to do away with some of the things that remind us the healing helps us move forward and become better

  • Shelby M.
    6 days


  • Kayla L.
    12/04/2019 02:53

    Hear me out .... This is basically a handmaidens tale come to life 😭

  • Lila B.
    12/02/2019 13:51


  • Rena T.
    12/01/2019 21:55

    God Bless her!🙏

  • Kali L.
    11/30/2019 21:38

    I think this is a awesome thing. It gives them some closer ❤️

  • Carrie D.
    11/30/2019 00:21

    What a wonderful thing to do.

  • Christina V.
    11/29/2019 15:19

    Oh that's amazing I need that

  • Eric S.
    11/26/2019 16:49


  • Bobbie J.
    11/24/2019 06:16

    It’s slave owning basically! We need to act on this more

  • Samantha W.
    11/24/2019 03:52

    Would really love to find u. I was abused by my ex-husband and am trying to get my tattoo covered or removed

  • Brittanie M.
    11/22/2019 03:34

    Let's open one!!!

  • Brooke P.
    11/21/2019 20:04

    Thank you so much for creating a safe environment for these survivors to heal

  • Gayla W.
    11/20/2019 15:16

    I love what your just goes to show that we can All find a way to do OUR part no matter how big or small to make a difference in a person's life and maybe even the world. Love each other.

  • Alaina C.
    11/19/2019 08:25

    This is outstanding work that you do 👌🏽 Thank you for being that hope to survivors.

  • Stephanie B.
    11/18/2019 21:38

    A wonderful thing you are doing!

  • Dolores T.
    11/18/2019 03:02

    Thank you is not sufficient to address your service. Blessings on you and your husband. ❤️

  • Teresa L.
    11/17/2019 16:37

    What a great difference u r making n their hearts and lives that’s wonderful 💜