The Unsolicited Intimacy of Tattoo Artists

The tattoo industry is reported to have made 1.75 US billion in 2021 and is believed to grow to 3.55 billion in 2029.

However, a dark side of the tattoo industry is emerging as well. In 2020, following the #MeToo movement, women denounced sexual abuse by their male tattooers in the #TattooMeToo movement. Many women shared the sexual assaults they experienced. Many learned an important lesson: never go to a tattoo studio unaccompanied.

Historically, sexual abuse has been wildly accepted as a part of the tattoo industry without many questions being asked. It is not widely spoken worldwide because it has been concealed for a long time. The tattoo industry is known to be male-dominated and associated with masculinity. The culture is slowly shifting, but many women still undergo traumatic experiences.

And it goes beyond the sexual itself. Many questions are asked, such as: “What were you wearing?” or “Were you alone?”. These questions can make victims doubt the discomfort they feel. discomfort. Victim blaming is a well-known approach in rape culture, and it is no surprise that it is being used to disrepute the victims in this case.

Not only do the victims go through physical assault, but they have to live with the tattoo. They hold on to their bodies a constant reminder of their experience on a daily basis. As such, many of them will get their old tattoo covered, as a way of coping.  

Olivia Chell, a tattoo artist in the UK, says she receives a lot of sexual abuse victims who come to her to cover their old tattoos and remove the memory. She has received many encouraging comments about her work which she loves to hear.

Culture is slowly shifting, but, unfortunately, it takes time. Going through the media to share the experience can help the cause to progress as it shows the public the situation and lets others victims know they are not alone.  

A harassment survivor, Lucy, created an Instagram account named Sexual Abuse Survivor Support (@tsass_uk) to make a place for sexual abuse victims like her to be able to talk about what they went through.

Here are two organisms that can help anyone who suffered sexual abuse: 


By Alicia Harvey

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