Can A Tattoo Be A Form Of Domestic Violence?!

Brunette Topless-Woman With Tattoos

Here’s hoping she got those tattoos on her own free will. Dating and domestic violence tattoos aren’t pretty. | Source: ShutterStock

Tattoos are a form of art and a form of self-expression, but for a few women in scary situations, a tattoo is actually a symbol of domestic violence. Say what?!

A new form of domestic and dating violence is emerging: Forced tattoos. Abusers will either physically force their victims to get tattoos–often of their abusers’ names. Other times abusers will drug their victims until they’re either unconscious or just not lucid enough to give actual consent to getting a tattoo. And often the tattoos themselves are as dangerous as the dating and domestic violence abuse situations that lead to them.

Most domestic violence tattoos–also called branding tattoos (think of how cattle get singed with symbols)–are usually given without actual tattoo ink, outside of tattoo parlors and sometimes even without tattoo guns, similar to prison tattoos. Some even use pencil lead, which can make you super sick.

A tattoo removal expert named Dawn Maestas went through a brutal domestic violence tattoo situation, and since then has taken to helping other victims. “This is control,” she explained of abusers forcing dating violence victims to get inked. “This is ‘you belong to me.'” She added, “I’ve had victims who have been drugged and tattooed, who have been physically held down and forced tattooed, and I get angry. I get angry because I know what these tattoos mean.”

While the scars of domestic violence may be permanent, the tattoos don’t have to be. “The tattoos are the one thing i get to take away,” Ms. Maestas fumed. “They’re the one thing I get to take away.”

Keep this in mind if anyone ever asks you get a tattoo of any kind that you’re not into, isn’t your idea or that you don’t want. You’ve seen celebs get tattoos of people’s names and watch the relationships fail (remember how Angelina Jolie had “Billy Bob” on her bicep?), but a domestic violence tattoo is even more dangerous and risky. It’s not just the sign of a doomed relationship. It’s also a sign of a doomed spirit if you don’t get help. If you’re in a relationship and experiencing dating violence–whether or not there’s a tattoo involved–get help here.

Would you ever get a tattoo for a guy? Have you heard of dating violence tattoos before? Have you ever been pressured into getting a tattoo by anyone else? Tell us in the comments!


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  • Karl

    Some people deserve to be tattooed as a punishment, at least as a warning to other potential victoms.