Domestic violence--tattooing women as a "brand"

rob333June 13, 2013

I'd never heard of this. But I sometimes drop by StoryCorp and I caught this one. I found a written article done by CBS (explaining it's more mainstream than I knew), but it says pretty much the same thing. I had no idea. Just thought I'd share it as information.


By Norah O'Donnell
Latishia Sanchez's tattoo has
painful memories, but she's finally
getting it removed with the help of
tattoo removal specialist Dawn
/ CBS News
May 5, 2013 6:52 PM
Branded by tattoos: A lesser-known
form of domestic violence
(CBS News) NEW YORK - One in every four women will experience domestic violence in
her lifetime. The abuse takes many forms, including one that's not widely known: Women
branded with tattoos.
Latishia Sanchez was 14 years old when she says was attacked by five men, including her
"I didn't think that I'd get raped, let alone by people I
didn't know, let alone my boyfriend allowing it," she said.
During the assault, they tattooed her boyfriend's name
across her neck using a needle and pencil lead
Six years later, she can't forget.
"It's hard," Sanchez said. "Right now our mirrors are
covered up because I can't look at myself."
Elena Galicia endured a series of violent boyfriends. To
placate one, she tattooed his name on her hip.
"He wanted me to show him that I was his, he was mine.
And I wanted to please him. I wanted him to be happy,"
she said.

Dawn Maestas is a tattoo removal specialist in Albuquerque, N.M. She says ink is often
used as a weapon of domestic violence.
"This is control. This is 'you belong to me,'" she said.
"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."
Maestas knows because she had one too, voluntarily putting own abuser's name on the
back of her hand. It was one of the first tattoos she removed.
"It was this very strange thing that I never thought about -- that when this tattoo was gone,
how lighthearted I seemed to be. There was just this certain, I dunno, an elevation that took
place," she said.
Now she donates her time --and her laser -- to help
"She's been through something similar and it just gives
you that connection," Sanchez said.
With just one session so far, Sanchez has already seen
a change.
"I got so happy I started crying and I was looking at it
and I was touching it like really? It's like a magic eraser
or something," Sanchez said.
"Once it's not visible anymore, that's going to make me
feel like a whole new person," Galicia said.
Maestas says what she does is just a finishing touch.
"The tattoos are the one thing i get to take away," she said. "They're the one thing I get to
take away."
A small step on the road to survival.

Here is a link that might be useful: CBS's story

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Never heard of this, however I've seen many females with names of ex boyfriends tattooed on them, many low quality.

I joked with some of them that if they ever meet a guy named XXXXX that they'll save on the cost of removal, a cover up or new ink...

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Might not be all that funny if they didn't choose to add it. Whoops! Surely, that's not the case.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 2:19PM
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Some may have been tattooed when they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Yes. She says that in the interview. She also says some are done by being held down forcibly. I got the feeling the influence of drugs were specific to the incident. Not that they never did drugs, but that it wasn't their choice. So are you justifying what happens to them, or it's somehow their fault? I assume you didn't read the articles then. The CBS news site was a 14 year old girl raped by a gang of guys, INCLUDING her boyfriend (she couldn't believe he'd allow it), who tattoo her neck. The other is 22 year old who says "he kidnapped me, held me hostage and tattooed his name all over my body against my will". When she tried to break it off with this guy, he wouldn't let her go literally. He would hold her by her legs and she'd have to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Still their fault? I don't see what you're getting at beyond it was a "choice". Yea, I guess, if the three of them could've seen into the future they would've made different choices. Life is a crap shoot even if you know the guy. Or at least, you thought you knew the guy. Rude awakenings indeed!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 3:35PM
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These tattoos are undeserved and unredeemed assaults on these women. Drugs or alcohol are irrelevant to that fact.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 3:46PM
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Is this "little known" because it's rare?

Or is it little known because it just doesn't get reported?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 3:56PM
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Here's an article from 2010. Sounds rampant? So maybe it's just not mainstream for ordinary people to know it yet. Too sad.

Here is a link that might be useful: pimps' system

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 4:00PM
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So are you justifying what happens to them, or it's somehow their fault?

If you're talking to me, I said I'd never heard of this - meaning forcible tattooing.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 5:31PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Rape is not about sex. It is power and possession. I worked at a women's shelter and there were lots of things done to women assaulted that had absolutely nothing involving physical penetration.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 9:57PM
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We are not so far from our animal past, are we?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 7:29AM
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So right, Marquest...

I love skin art, but I also know that the only names one ever agrees to have inked in are those of one's children, who are forever... if one can possibly help it.

It's horrid that this is used against people.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 7:30AM
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Thanks for that link. The article points out that tattooing was how slave owners marked their human "property."

Here we are today, with pimps and "boyfriends" marking the females they "own" with tattoos, and yet it's not widely known. If men were throwing acid on females, or branding them with irons, I'm pretty sure the media would be on the story and demanding prosecution. Yet disfigurement by an unwanted tattoo doesn't get attention. I'm still not understanding why this isn't a huge story. The tattoos ought to lead rather quickly to the identity of these dirt bags. I mean, if you have a "stable" of women, they shouldn't be that difficult to identify, thereby helping law enforcement build a case against you. Even if the women don't say a word.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 3:47PM
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Inanely enough, some females will agree to have men's names inked in, though for the life of me I can't figure out why anyone would agree to that.

To have it forcefully carried out would be humiliating, degrading, and close to rape, itself.

Slaves were usually branded much like horses and cattle.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 4:05PM
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The only forced tattooing I'm in favor of is what Lisbeth did to her rapist in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (She tied him down and tattooed. I AM A SADISTIC PIG, A PERVERT, AND A RAPIST" on his abdomen). Seemed appropriate to me.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 5:19PM
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That was an awesome movie, and I agree the punishment doled out was more than appropriate! I might have taken it to another level, myself. ;-)

Good movie... good movie!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 6:27PM
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So many times women "agree to" things to keep their partners from going ballistic & beating the daylights out of them.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 4:08PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

It reminds me of the numbers tattooed on the arms of concentration camp prisoners. Their guards and members of the SS were also tattooed, so I have read.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Personally, I don't understand the woman who would stay with an abusive partner, but that's me. I would never put up with that, and would find starting over from scratch, without dollar one, preferable.

It's a shame that this is what some women know, and this is what some men learn is perfectly acceptable treatment for females.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 10:31PM
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Jodi, I was with an abusive partner. For more years than I care to admit.

Here's just a bit, I hope it's understandable. If it's not, I understand. I didn't know why a woman would stay either until it happened to me.

First, if a man or woman was abusive on day 1, it would be easy to spot and no one would ever be with an abuser past the first date. My husband abuser and I met when I was at a vulnerable place in my life. He was kind, sensitive, listened to me, and seemed to be a good man. At the time. Looking back of course there were red flags everywhere.

He didn't yell. He didn't hit me. He didn't do anything "weird". He was kind. He cooked and cleaned and we had fabulous conversations.

We were together for years before I felt something was "off". He would say things to me that were not UN-kind, but not kind either. He started saying things, like I was clumsy, or couldn't do anything right, or to other people, things like he couldn't find things because I was always putting them away wrong.

He would purposefully do things to keep me from doing things I enjoyed. He sabotagued. But not in a big way, not in a way that I could clearly put my finger down and say "HERE, SEE HERE".

All the while he spoke about me in GLOWING terms to his family, to my family, to friends, to my co-workers. He told me ALL THE TIME that I was the one for him, and he is so lucky, etc. When a family member of his was rude, he stood up for me. You know, all that stuff women hope their men will do for them.

During all of this time I was super busy, raising my daughter, working on my house, working full time, etc. I literally didn't have time to be examining those little niggling thoughts I was having. Mostly because I thought there WAS something wrong with me.

See, he was SO smart and polite and we NEVER fought. He would manipulate situations and I would think, there's something wrong with me. And I believed his manipulations.

One day he hit the wall, right next to my face. And he left a giant hole. And when I looked at him, incredulous, he said "better the wall than your face".

And still I didn't leave. Why? WHY??? Because we had been together for six years by that point. Because we had two kids (his and mine, from different parents) who were in our FAMILY. Because it was MY house, and in order to leave I'd have to kick him and his out. Because we're taught to work it out.

Even after knowing all this, a lot of people wanted us to try counseling. I had been trying to get him to go for years, he wouldn't. When I finally decided to leave, he offered... but it was too late for me.

It took an extreme situation to get me to see what was going on. And for over nine months I went a bit berzerk because he had completely turned my self-esteem upside down. I hadn't even realized it. He made me afraid (under the guise of protecting me), he financially nearly ruined me and he did it all without being a complete ___________ (at least, not overtly).

Later on I found out that he had said some pretty weird things to family members. I realized so many ways he had been messing with me.

I was raised in a feminist household by my lesbian mother and her lover of 20 years. I know girl-power. I thought I was immune to this kind of manipulation. But now I see it in other women too.

Women are raised and culturalized to be nice, to make nice, to be sweet. EVEN though I was not, there was still that pressure. I didn't want to fail either!! I wanted to make my marriage work. I thought, and he validated that thought, that if I were just a little better, did a little more, etc... it would all work out.

Finally I realized, I'm doing the cooking, cleaning, heavy labor, childcare, working very stressful job... and he's complaining. Time to get rid of dead weight.

Now the recovery time is immense. No one wants to recognize it was abuse because I don't have bruises. I don't have a tattoo. My bruises and marks and scars are under my skin. Not that it's worse, but psycological damage is extremely difficult to overcome. If I"m not hyper aware of myself I get so incredibly defensive and closed down.

I'm afraid, Jodi. I get extremely afraid. Mostly that I allowed myself to be treated like that. And many people, when hearing my story in detail just look at me (especially women!) with scorn on their face and say "I would never stay with someone who abused me".

Yeah. I hope you don't. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Just remember, it's not the sort of thing that happens overnight. It's grooming, just like the sex abuse I suffered as a child (and I believe may have a big impact on why I didn't stand up for myself as an adult). My abuser was a friend of the family. He met me when I was 3.

He didn't abuse me until I was 13. He laid the groundwork that entire time. Patient?! You betcha. And I'm not the only one in my neighborhood who has really conflicting feelings about ___________, because once you really believe someone loves you, someone thinks you are special, someone helps and cares and's really hard to un-believe.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 3:03PM
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Thanks silversword for sharing your story.

It's a classic example of how these-people-operate (I always think of viruses; they move into your very cells until they occupy every cell & you don't have anything left to defend yourself with...)

"I didn't know why a woman would stay either until it happened to me."

& the thing is that the abuser uses that incredulity against his victim, destroying her credibililty with everybody she knows.

Abusers are people who drive you insane & then tell everybody you're crazy, & everybody, often including you, believes them.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 3:07PM
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sylvia, you do that every time. I feel so vulnerable and, yet, more importantly, comforted. You really reach my inner soul; the heart of my protected self.

(((Silver))) is right too. It's not a "dumb" woman who stays with an abuser.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 4:24PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Not to mention, there is a question of how much help and support a woman could reasonably expect. Say if you are sitting in a restaurant and your husband is choking you during an argument, you cannot expect that someone will intervene. Apparently, even if there are pictures documenting your husband doing this, there is a chance in the UK that the swine gets off with just a "caution." Almost seems like a set-up for a Miss America question asking what that says about us as a society.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:07PM
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A celebrity no less. Such a strange thing since she's under such scrutiny in a public place, that he'd do that. Not that there is logic to any abuse. I'll warn him, via my foot up his rear.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 9:34AM
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I just read an article that 1 out of 3 women in the world is a victim of domestic violence.

I was lucky (or a good planner), my house is in my name and my child is mine from a prior marriage, I make my own money and I have a good family network. So I could "get away" once I realized how bad it was.

My biggest hurdle was that he had systematically broken me down, without me knowing, and I REALLY and TRULY was tired, overworked, doubting myself, in a rut, terrified of change, didn't think I deserved better, etc...

Remember, the whole time he was telling me all these wonderful words, renovating my kitchen "for me" and building and doing and planning and etc...

It's not like he had me chained in a room! All of our friends, some of whom had known the two of us for over 20 years, were SHOCKED when I left him. Because he's such a nice guy. My neighbors couldn't believe it. We were the "perfect" couple.

My breaking point (emotionally) came when a family member offered that if I ever wanted to leave him I'd always have a place at her home.

I was super surprised that she would offer, as she's a high-powered executive who doesn't have family stay over, let alone live with her with a small child (!). Her words stuck with me and I thought "if she thinks something's wrong enough that she'd say something, there must be more going on than I thought was obvious".

Later I learned that my EX had told her not to do something at a family party and that he'd "punch" her in the face if she did. hahaha.

My family is NOT like that AT ALL and she was HORRIFIED. I had no idea. I never imagined he'd say something like that. He was SUCH A NICE GUY.

Story after story emerged after I left him, making me extremely depressed, self-doubting, etc. He cheated a few of my family members out of money, saying it was a loan for us, etc.

So. If a well educated, feminist raised, self-sufficient, personally strong person such as myself could get in a bad situation, take a while to see it for what it really was, make sure I wasn't CRAZY (because he'd convinced me I was emotionally damaged, etc) and not leave for years....


Now I consider women who have a few little babies, no education or way of supporting themselves, a history of neglect/abuse, etc. and instead of wondering why they don't leave, I'm amazed when they do.

It is truly an effort of immense proportions, and I will never again say "I'd just....." about many situations. I really have no idea how I'd react.

It's like my best friend who said she didn't know why women didn't just exercise after childbirth and lose the baby weight and I told her, honey, there are so many complications. You just never know what's going on.

After her baby was born she had complications and couldn't work out for over a year. She told me that she imagines people are saying the same about her with scorn...

"I just don't know why she's still with that baby weight"

If you don't know, or if you think but haven't been there, don't judge. Offer support. Tell the people in your life that you are there for them, that you support them, that you will be there for them.

If they need help they may remember your words and believe me, sometimes that is all the lifeline a person needs to start pulling out of a bad situation.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 3:05PM
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