Domestic abuse is a horrible reality in societies across the globe. It causes people to be terrified in their own homes, a place everyone dreams of being safe and comfortable. Worse still, it brings harsh ideas and conflicts into the lives of children who are too young to what’s going on completely. This kind of abuse can scar people for life and destroy their ability to trust anyone. And not just mental scars, the physical scar of such abuse are an everyday reminder to victims.
A Haunting Reminder
It’s truly a horrible thing to be abused in your own home by people you love and in the presence of innocent loved ones. What makes it even worse is to be reminded of it every day, making it that much harder for you to finally move on with your life.
An Artist with A Big Heart
Tattoo artist Yevgeniya Zakhar heard about a Brazilian tattoo artist who was offering a service to scarred victims of domestic abuse. Her client’s, most often women, who not only are reminded of their dark past every morning in the mirror but from everyone who asked about their scar’s too.
What the Brazilian artist was doing for these victims was that she would take their scarred tissue and turn it into beautiful art with an ink gun. Upon hearing this, Yevgeniya Zakhar decided she would do this too and what’s more is she didn’t charge these clients a cent.
She posted an ad on her social media page last year, 2016, offering to give abused women a tattoo for free that would cover up their scars. All that they had to do was choose the design that they liked best and she would replace their haunting reminder with beautiful art.
Glad for the Help
She didn’t have to wait long until she was flooded with requests. Ms Zakhar, 33, works in Ufa, which is a city that is about 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) east of Moscow. In this new venture, it would not just be the work that she had to persevere through.
Hard to Hear
The stories her clients told her of inhumane beatings, burns and stabbings took their toll of the artist. She quickly had to limit herself to seeing these women only one day a week, due to the stress it caused her to hear these unbelievably sick things.
A Dire Situation in Russia
Through her humanitarian project, Yevgeniya Zakhar learnt about the dire domestic abuse situation in her country. Before limiting herself, she was seeing between 2 and 4 clients a day. Authorities corroborated stating that it is on average 40% of women that experience domestic abuse.
A Scary Situation
“I didn’t expect to be inundated with visits,” she began “I had to work on two to four clients a day. It’s really scary, scary to look at this problem and hear what people are saying.” Since then President Putin has decriminalised domestic violence if there aren’t any broken bones, making the predicament for Russians truly terrifying.
Not a New Problem
Domestic violence has been a long-standing issue in Russia. Police estimate that 40% of all crime in Russia happens within the family. And with Putin’s new measure battery on a family member is now punishable by a fine or 15-day arrest.
A Different Mindset
In a survey run during January 2017 by state run Russian Public Opinion Research Centre, 19% of responders (that’s nearly a fifth of all responders) said it could be acceptable to hit one’s wife, husband, or child in certain circumstances.
I Don’t See the Logic
It seems some pretty shifty logic was used to promote the new law. Supports of the law say that it does not promote, or sanction domestic abuse. Rather, it gives families an opportunity to reconcile after what the bill’s co-author, Olga Batalina, described as an ’emotional conflict, without malice, without grave consequences’.
The women choose the design they want, and Ms Zakhar transforms their, battered but alive bodies, into art. Turning to scars they were powerlessly given into something of their own choosing gives them back some power and control over their lives.
A Kind of Ritual
Curiously most women tend to choose flowers or butterflies. The whole process takes on a ritualistic quality. As the client is on the table being inked they confide in Ms Zakhar, telling her of their horrors as a form of release.
Something New to Talk About
“Girls are willing to talk, often because it will be the last time they speak about the scars,” she said. “They don’t talk about it later because they will be talking about their beautiful tattoo, not a scar.” And the girls begin their walking into a new life.
Katarina Golovkova, one of Zakhar’s clients, went through a massive 8 hours of surgery to save her arm after being thrown into a window by her boyfriend. She had thought about covering her scars with a tattoo before, but didn’t have the courage before she saw Zakhar’s ad. Instead of people asking about her scar, they now saw “How Cool!” about her tattoo.