NOTE: When I do not have any “Survivor Stories” for Saturdays, I’m going to discuss the growth from getting out of DV. Thought that’d be a good thing too! BUT, I still need survivors to tell their stories!

As a victim in active abuse, I was “allowed” to do things. My hair colors and styles had to be approved. My clothes were evaluated constantly (which I why I opted not to go anywhere and stayed in t-shirts and sweatpants). It was infuriating, as I have always been a free spirit. I did it, honestly, to keep the peace and because I felt trapped.

I’d always wanted a tattoo or two or five. It wasn’t until I was 42, that I had to courage to go and do it. I had a friend whom I worked with that also had his own tattoo parlor too. The decided upon tattoo was our children’s first and middle names and birth dates around my right ankle. My Abuser approved it because it would be “sexy” and understated. He didn’t want a “tattooed tramp,” according to him. Probably why I didn’t share that I wanted more than just that one…

I never kept the details of my tattoo appointment from him. He wanted me to reschedule it, because he would be driving over-the-road, but it was the only time slot available for two months. He was mad at me, but I kept my appointment.

Let me tell you, the ankle is a sensitive place, so the fact that this was my first tattoo amazed my friend John. “You’re a brave woman,” he told me as he prepped the area. He just laughed and shook his head.

Once we were an hour or so into the tattoo, the door flew open and there stood my Abuser.

“Hi, honey,” I said, through squinty eyes [due to pain].

My Abuser watched the work John did so intently and close, that John asked him if he could sit on the other side of me so he could have some room. Later that night, my Abuser would admit that he refused a load (to haul), in order to come home early because he was sure he’d catch me cheating on him. He also later told our oldest child that he got reprimanded and written up for the refusal, but that it was “totally worth it, because [I] was totally cheating and [he] almost caught [me].” I was not allowed to go back for another tattoo, but secretly did because I’d kept left over money from grocery shopping to save up for them. I got an incredible deal, but mainly because my friend felt sorry for me. I just wanted some ink and John was like a brother.

Recently, I was emboldened to do a tattoo sleeve of my childhood hero, Wonder Woman. I wanted to have what looked like a comic book tribute to her on my right arm, but I was hesitant. My boyfriend encouraged me, telling me I had earned the right…because I was a Wonder Woman. He was right!

So, as I sat when my tattoo artist was putting my tattoo stencil on, I was quiet.

“You okay?” he asked, as he prepped.

“Yes, I’m great!” I really was! Beyond!

I didn’t believe I was doing it! I would be the “tattooed hussy,” that my then-husband always told me I would. I didn’t do the “hussy” part, but I wanted what I wanted. The fact that it was MY decision to proceed. I felt so important and empowered! No more being dictated to and told how I should look.

My Wonder Woman tattoo sleeve is not yet done, but it’s well on its way…it’s a symbol of my independence and taking back ME! I AM an Amazon Woman, due to what I survived, and despite being 5’2!”

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