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Tattooing by force - one form of domestic violence

According to the FBI, one of every four women in the United States will experience some sort of assault by a boyfriend or husband during her life. Although domestic violence is often a silent crime, some victims bear permanent reminders - tattoos - that demonstrate how their abusers regarded them as little more than property.

Domestic violence is now known to have a wide scope. It broadly includes anything done against a person's will in the confines of a relationship between a victim and an assailant. It includes a wide variety of criminal acts other than physical assault. Anyone can be a victim: spouses, sexual or intimate partners, family members, children and co-habitants.

Increasingly common has been forced tattooing, usually by men against women. One New York teenager experienced this form of domestic violence when she was 14-years-old. With the help of her own boyfriend, four men raped her and tattooed her boyfriend's name on her neck using a needle and pencil lead.

Forcibly tattooed women are constantly reminded of their plight as victims. To completely heal, they need to have their tattoos removed.

Removal, in fact, has become the mission of one laser-wielding tattoo artist in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "I've had victims who have been drugged and tattooed, who have been physically held down and forced tattooed, and I get angry . . . because I know what these tattoos mean," she recently said. She apparently has personal experience, and has performed the removal procedure on herself: removing the name of her own abuser from the back of her hand.

Addressing domestic violence is a critical part of family law. Pennsylvanians who endure such violence can look for more information to find out how to address their concerns and reach solutions.

Source: CBSnews.com, "Branded by tattoos: A lesser known form of domestic violence," Norah O'Donnell, May 5, 2013

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