You might think of tattoos as something frivolous or as just a fun, creative outlet, but tattoo artist Kate Malone is using her craft to help sex workers. Many people who are exploited as sex workers are branded by their pimps, which is a disgusting practice whereby the individuals are given some sort of tattoo or marking (usually a pimp's name) that shows who they "belong" to. The Milwaukee-based tattoo artist was inspired to use her practice for good by two victims, which caused her to see the psychological impact that having a permanent mark on your body can have.
Malone now offers a cover-up service, where she covers up branding marks with a brand-new tattoo free of charge."You can take something painful and turn it into something beautiful," Malone tells Cosmopolitan. "I love doing cover-ups for people." Many survivors opt for roses, but others get designs like birds, which gives Malone more room to manipulate the design to fully conceal the brand mark.
Denise Harris, one of her clients and initial sources of inspiration, shares how having her pimp's name removed helped facilitate her healing process. Harris was able to earn her GED and after escaping from the sex industry and now works with the Convergence Resource Center to help other survivors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karine Moreno-Taxman tells Fox News that removing a branding mark can change a survivor's life, since it frees them from the power a pimp had over them. "Getting rid of a tattoo is like breaking a bond. That person is no longer chained to her pimp. He no longer has his mark on her.” Moreno-Taxman explains.
Malone is looking to expand her practice and is recruiting other tattoo artists to help her take her work to as many survivors of the sex trade as possible. If you're a sex trafficking survivor and would like to get your brand covered up or would like to help Kate in her work, you can contact her at 414-289-7777.
Images: Getty (1), Kate Malone Tattoo/Instagram