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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.

Brut.

06/08/2019 12:00 PM
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155 comments

  • Julie S.
    5 days

    Coby, thought you might find this interesting given your work with a Rose program

  • Vicki S.
    5 days

    Bless both of you.

  • Kaegen M.
    6 days

    Angelina Nadeau that was a shallow hurtful comment.

  • Eric C.
    6 days

    Bitchs dumb if he beats on you Leave not stay another couple Years hoping he changes 😂

  • Traci S.
    7 days

    Awesome

  • Ashley N.
    01/19/2020 09:26

    I went through this for 5 years was lucky to make it out alive me and my kids. I lost my kids bc of him and bc I didn't have family and he almost killed me he choked me until I wasn't breathing and so much more I have PTSD bc of it and he tattooed and miss bi*** on my arm and burnt his initials in my skin and even messed my back up by hitting me with a jeep he has destroyed my life. Luckily I made it out and now has a really good man for a husband who holds me when I have flashbacks.

  • Gabrielle T.
    01/19/2020 05:33

    God bless you

  • Silvia S.
    01/19/2020 04:14

    God bless you for doing this 💕

  • Leon H.
    01/16/2020 06:30

    And this is why children shouldn't get tattoos

  • David J.
    01/16/2020 04:36

    I have been contemplating about removing some tattoos in the next couple of years. They aren’t large. But man I hear it cost a lot of money

  • Francisco L.
    01/15/2020 00:38

    Mmhm que no p

  • Ashlee C.
    01/14/2020 03:31

    I think you look like this lady that removes the tattoos.

  • Carla W.
    01/11/2020 17:22

    So glad you got out

  • Lee B.
    01/11/2020 04:48

    Maybe I'm being a lil harsh a pimp or sex trafficking I could understand but anyone man or woman that has someone's name tattooed on them done so by choice then when things go wrong their stuck with a bad decision and I would say men are probably worse about doing it than women

  • Anna B.
    01/10/2020 23:16

    I NEED THIS! Tired of having this pos name on my face. 😔

  • EllenAnn M.
    01/10/2020 13:29

    God bless you and your husband for advocating for these women.

  • Ansley E.
    01/10/2020 05:28

    I love This

  • Laura H.
    01/09/2020 22:14

    Your still showing her tattoo anf the back of her head not safe

  • Phoenix J.
    01/09/2020 04:56

    when tattoo artist and erotic enthusiast link up to change the world 🌎🖤💙

  • Courtney S.
    01/08/2020 18:09

    My abuser tried for 3 years to get me to tattoo his name onmyself. . . I was smart and said well cant ot be something you like or that reminds me of you? He said no and insisted ..luckily I found my head and dumped him before my 21st bday and the tattoo I chose for myself is so much better