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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  • 71


  • Kester C.
    06/08/2019 12:29

    Who start trafficking

  • فرحان ك.
    06/08/2019 12:45

    Their humanity is always very high

  • Charles M.
    06/08/2019 17:13

    White people 🙄😏😒😕😟

  • Stefanie S.
    06/08/2019 17:54

    Angels do exist.

  • Brut
    06/08/2019 23:05

    Learn more about Restorative Ink here:

  • Kate L.
    06/08/2019 23:21

    You are an sngel

  • Kui I.
    06/10/2019 06:52

    There are approximately 6 GAZILLION ways that charity money could be put to better use. GAZILLIONS.

  • PicoWay
    06/10/2019 23:47

    Love this story, and happy that our technology can be a part of helping survivors. 💗

  • Morgan S.
    06/14/2019 05:26

    Good for you Stephanie! Changing the world ❤️❤️❤️

  • Kayla M.
    06/20/2019 03:09

    I truly wiah she could come and remove mine. My ex fiance was very abusive to me and my children and now im stuck with his name he said get this and i didnt want to but i did because he made me believe he loved me and my children but turned on us and left us homeless and with the help of my parents im home safe but with a bad reminder of him everyday

  • Abdul R.
    06/22/2019 10:28


  • Devin B.
    06/22/2019 13:13

    I thought you may find this interesting.!

  • Dana B.
    06/22/2019 23:33

    Good work

  • Kacklin K.
    06/23/2019 22:46

    I wish u were closer to Ohio

  • Ana M.
    06/24/2019 16:50

    Im taking my ass to training and learn how to fight id be damn if i let another niga beat my ass again

  • Ryann S.
    06/26/2019 17:54

    Sanchez Mia you can get yours removed 💗

  • Haylee V.
    06/27/2019 03:40

    I need to go to WI ...

  • Brooklyn M.
    06/27/2019 17:02

    Q m a d i cvrghe is w

  • Mitch F.
    06/27/2019 23:09

    This shit is so wild that it’s hard to even believe it’s true.

  • Antonèe M.
    06/28/2019 03:42

    Cathy Monsalvo