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


  • Kelly W.
    10/11/2021 02:56

    You are angel on earth

  • Geelbooi D.
    10/08/2021 14:38

    You have the choice of your life you live.

  • Cristina G.
    09/26/2021 16:18

    My hero!!!!

  • Melissa M.
    09/21/2021 23:23

    I covered mine with flowers ❤️

  • Lea M.
    09/19/2021 00:31

    Keep doing what you do. Kudos.

  • Kayla P.
    09/18/2021 14:49

    The women in this are so incredibly strong. And I love the tattoo removal lady, HUGE PROPS

  • Debbie G.
    09/11/2021 09:03


  • Mima M.
    09/09/2021 15:04

    The sickening harsh truth and its hardcore slavery that keeps being hidden from public eye. Everyone knows just nobody talks about it 😢

  • Rebecca L.
    09/04/2021 01:56

    God bless you both for helping these people take back their lives!

  • Denise U.
    09/03/2021 12:08

    Doing a great job x

  • Gail B.
    09/02/2021 10:12

    Bless you ma'am.

  • Denny E.
    07/07/2021 17:19

    I have nothing else to say other than Thank you

  • Jorja M.
    06/03/2021 09:03

    The video in itself is amazing for survivors. But adding stock acting videos of domestic violence at the end isn't helpful to the actual survivors. Maybe a rolling screen of numbers for domestic abuse services in different countries would be really helpful instead of upsetting images.

  • Elizabeth A.
    12/17/2020 01:17

    What a wonderful service!

  • John Kezz
    10/13/2020 05:53


  • Somnath B.
    09/24/2020 13:22

    this is amazing

  • Therese C.
    05/12/2020 14:07

    God bless your work with offering some form of healing for these victims.

  • Alysha V.
    03/12/2020 17:00

    Honestly, I think tattoos are great. I've got five and the fifth is the newest and on my chest covering a scar that usually doesn't show up in pictures but I still hate it bc I did something stupid and so I got it covered up just like on my left arm and it makes me so much more happier to have them

  • Jessica T.
    03/11/2020 22:04

    Come heal me please....... lol I don’t think there is anyone out there that can “heal” me 😂🤦🏻‍♀️

  • Beth C.
    03/08/2020 19:51

    Loveeee this.

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