SAYING GOODBYE TO AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
"I remember blacking out and I woke up with the tattoo on my hand."
Lauren’s abusive ex-partner had his name tattooed on her hand without her permission. When we heard her story, we redirected Lauren - who originally came to us as a paying client - to our Second Chances project, so she could continue her treatment for free.
We’d like to thank Lauren for being so open to sharing her story.
Lauren, will you tell us about the person whose name is tattooed on you?
I met a man in March 2022. I went out with him a few times, it was fine, and we fell into a relationship very quickly.
After the third time I met him, I was unable to go home. I couldn't go out and do anything unless it was with him. When I was at work, he had to FaceTime me the whole 8 hours of my shift, which was quite intense. I quickly realised that I was in a bit of a bad situation. I’d completely cut off contact with my family and couldn't really ask for help. I didn't really know what to do. He started getting super-violent and nearly strangled me to death.
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And how did the tattoo happen?
We were driving home from shopping one day and when we got back to his house there was a tattoo artist set up. I asked what he was doing and he said he wanted to get matching tattoos. I said no, I didn’t want that but he said he’d already designed it and everything. I felt like I didn’t have an option.
He made me a drink so I had a sip of it and my head felt really woozy, as if he’d put something in my drink. I remember blacking out and I woke up with the tattoo on my hand. I was in complete shock but he just acted like normal. I didn't know what to do at that point.
What happened next?
The violence got quite bad. I wasn't eating. I went to work one day and I had bruises all over me. I had a black eye, my nose was bruised, my lip was split. And my boss said that I had to call someone for help. So I phoned the police and they came to my work and took me to a safe house.
He was arrested and has been in prison ever since. The relationship only lasted three months. But yeah, it was tough.
Do you see your removal as part of your healing?
Yeah. The tattoo is quite prominent. It's quite a conversation starter. I'm conscious about it 24/7. People will ask questions about it and it makes me feel really upset and depressed.
He put it on my hand because it was an ownership-type stamp and he said that I would never be able to be with any other man. I've even tried to cut it out, which is quite extreme.
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Tell us about your decision to come to NAAMA and Second Chances.
I discovered NAAMA through a friend of mine. He's been here and posted about how great you were and how good it was for his skin. I've been looking for somewhere to help me for so long.
And so I got into contact with you and it's just been amazing. Everyone’s so polite and I was honestly blown away. The last time I was here you said you would help me through the Second Chances programme. Honestly, I’m still speechless. I'm so grateful.
And how have you found the process?
Really easy, actually. I'm a little bit nervous, obviously, because of the tattoo. I don't want anyone to see it and I don't want that judgement. I don't even really want you guys to look at it because it makes me feel uncomfortable.
But you've been amazing and I feel really relaxed here. Every time I walk in, it’s welcoming. It's a great place.
I’ve previously had tattoo removal elsewhere but it was so bad for my skin and I’ve got a bit of scarring. I think NAAMA is amazing and I wish I could tell everyone about it. I didn’t know there was somewhere like this where you could have your tattoo removed and it’d be good for your skin too. And you guys spend a lot of time with your customers and I think that's great.
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What does removing this tattoo mean to you?
I'm becoming free and getting my life back. One day, the tattoo's not going to be there. It almost chokes me up a little bit that one day I can move on forever, because this is the only thing that is stopping me.
It means everything. When you've been through something like I have - and a lot of other women have and a lot of other women who can't really speak out about it - and the fact that I got justice as well, the removal of his name would just mean everything to me.
And how do you feel today? What advice would you give?
I've always been quite giving and caring, I have a big heart and always want to help people. But don’t ignore red flags. If you see something bad in someone, don’t accept it and know what your worth is.
SECOND CHANCES is here to help
To nominate yourself or someone else for our SECOND CHANCES program, complete the submission form with your tattoo story and what it would mean to you/your nominee to receive treatment with us.