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Jan
16

Athens tattoo parlor provides free cover-ups to survivors …

When walking into 3 Ravens Tattoo and Piercing, the first thing that strikes you is how bright everything is. Light beams filter through the windows, falling across potted plants adorning the various work stations, and sketches hang on the walls, showing customers the types of artwork they could have on their body.

Jim and Devon Mellor, a married tattoo artist duo at 3 Ravens, have cultivated the space to be a place where their clients feel comfortable. Recently, their clientele has expanded to include survivors of sex trafficking, who are offered the free service of covering tattoos or brandings they were forced to get.

Jim Mellor and his wife Devon Mellor opened 3 Ravens Tattoo & Piercing one year ago in Athens, Georgia. The couple will cover up sex trafficking victims tattoos free of charge. (Photo/Ashley Soriano)

For these Athens tattoo artists, helping sex trafficking survivors cover tattoos they received while being trafficked helps survivors move forward in their lives.

According to the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Partners for Vulnerable Youth, sex trafficking victims are sometimes forced to get a tattoo that indicates they belong to a certain pimp.

These marks carry through long after someone is lucky enough to be liberated from that life, Devon said. Its the last thing that someone whos struggling to go from being trafficked to get on their feet is going to have money for or put money toward.”

The most common tattoos are crowns, roses, names and even barcodes, Jim said. The tattoos tend to be on victims wrists or necks.

In the past, men and women have come to the Mellors to cover tattoos. During the tattoo process, they often share their story with the artists.

They were not forthcoming with it until you have them in the chair and kind of talk with them for a while, and then it comes out what [the tattoo] really is, Devon said.

Jim Mellor gives a tattoo on December 9, 2018, in his tattoo shop in Athens, Georgia. Jim Mellor and his wife Devon Mellor opened 3 Ravens Tattoo & Piercing one year ago and will cover up sex trafficking victims tattoos free of charge. (Photo/Ashley Soriano)

For Devon, providing free cover-up tattoos is her way of supporting survivors and help them move on from this part of their lives.

Its like therapy, Devon said. Its a physical expression of a lot of the emotional stuff thats going on inside their head that cant get out. Its a very physical, visual transformation.

Jim has seen this as a life-changing experience for some clients.

[The mark] takes away someones self-value … and when you take the tag away, everything changes, Jim said.

Covering up the marks is typically finished in one setting, Devon said. This allows the survivors to only have to go through the experience once, which may make a tattoo cover-up more appealing than a tattoo removal.

Jim and Devon were approached by Jennifer Davidson, an Athens resident and employee at Hortons Drug Store. After reading a journal article about the marks sex trafficking survivors receive, Davidson reached out to the Mellors hoping they could provide cover-ups.

Jim Mellor gives a tattoo on December 9, 2018, in his tattoo shop in Athens, Georgia. Jim Mellor and his wife Devon Mellor opened 3 Ravens Tattoo & Piercing one year ago and will cover up sex trafficking victims tattoos free of charge. (Photo/Ashley Soriano)

The Mellors were happy to help when Davidson approached them.

Davidson now helps those looking for tattoo cover-ups find 3 Ravens she said her background in forensic interviewing has helped by her with this.

In the course of earning this certification, Davidson learned about volunteer crisis counseling and assisting with live sexual assault exams of children and adults.

To Davidson, one of the most important things right now is getting the information out. She plans on reaching out to the police department, local sexual assault center The Cottage and homeless shelters in the area to let them know about 3 Ravens service.

Jim Mellor and his wife Devon Mellor opened 3 Ravens Tattoo & Piercing one year ago in Athens, Georgia. The couple will cover up sex trafficking victims tattoos free of charge. (Photo/Ashley Soriano)

Its very dark and disheartening to think that these things happen around us. But its important for us to know as a community that they do happen around us, Davidson said.

As far as Davidson is concerned, Athens is ready to help survivors.

We are gifted with this community of Athens … there is something of beauty and value in each person who lives here, no matter how or where theyre living,” Davidson said.

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Athens tattoo parlor provides free cover-ups to survivors …