COVINGTON - A Conyers woman who experienced her own trauma and abuse is reaching out to help others in similar situations find some measure of relief through tattoo removals and covers.
Jessica Lamb started Atlanta Redemption Ink (ARI) last spring. ARI focuses on restoring dignity to survivors of exploitation, trauma and abuse by turning marks of hurt into depictions of hope, recovery and freedom. They assist recovered self-harmers, women/minors with sex trafficking brandings (forced tattoos by traffickers marking them as property), gang/hate tattoos, and domestic violence scars/burns. ARI connects survivors with partnered and trusted artists to assist in the tattoo removals and covers.
"I started ARI because I am a survivor who has seen my share of trauma and abuse,” Lamb said. “I saw a need here in the Southeast in the after care area of helping survivors of exploitation, trauma and abuse, so I decided to fill it.
"Many people dont realize the psychological affect of being left with marks on your body can do. My personal marks were covered back in 2016 and it was not a good experience for me, and I wanted to change that and provide this service to survivors and have it be a positive and uplifting experience all the way around from the moment they fill out the application through the healing process of the removal or cover.
“I knew when God laid this on my heart back in the spring that it was the direction I wanted to take in helping assist them," Lamb said. "I stay connected with each survivor long after their marks have been covered. My heart is to see survivors continue to thrive and make strides in their recovery. We are very thankful for every artist and removal specialist that has partnered with ARI in making an impact in survivor’s lives in their journey.”
ARI has partnered with 20 trusted tattoo artists in six Southeastern states, such as Jesse Rollins of Covington, owner of Iron Clad Ink Tattoo. Rollins is a full-time firefighter with the Covington Fire Department. He has been a tattoo artist for about nine and a half years, and opened his own business about four years ago after seeing what one side of the tattoo industry is like.
“I didn’t like the way the tattooing industry was being run — drugs and alcohol and gang members all invited in and welcomed in,” Rollins said. “That’s not what I’m about, and I chose to start my own business. We’re kind of known in the area as being a family-friendly place. People aren’t afraid to bring their children into the shop. A lot of tattoo shops, I would never take my kids there.”
Rollins and Lamb met through mutual friends.
“Jessica approached me around August of this year and wanted to get some work done for a young lady, and it just worked out for us,” he said. “As soon as she asked me if I’d help, it was a no-brainer. My mother was in an abusive marriage, and actually left him before I was born, so it’s always been my heart to help women.”
Lamb said the atmosphere that Rollins has in his studio on Pace Street is what she looks for when she partners with tattoo artists.
“A lot of tattoo parlors are very dark,” she said. “They are not very good environments and very loud. The shops that we are partnered with are light, they are good environments. I don’t see any drugs or alcohol. The artists are clear-minded and they talk with the young ladies. I know that Jesse shared his story about how he grew up with one of our young ladies, and she was able to talk to him. So it is just a really good, open atmosphere for people to be able to talk. It is a really good environment.
“I’m currently partnered with 20 artists across the Southeast. We have people being helped in Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Georgia,” she continued. “Costs vary between the artists. Some of them do charge a little, some of them do pro bono (voluntarily without payment). Minors are assisted through tattoo removal at no cost to the survivor.”
Since beginning a few months ago, ARI has already helped 15 women. Both survivors and providers can go online to review guidelines and apply at www.AtlantaRedemptionInk.com.
ARI is a 501c3 non-profit and works strictly off donations and community support. Donations can be made on the ARI website. ARI can also be found on Twitter and Facebook. Lamb can also be reached at 678-926-9946 or by email at email@example.com.