Thousands of women across the United States are being forced to get tattoos that have a disturbing meaning.
The “crown” tattoos indicate that the women are under the orders of a certain pimp, who typically forces the women to also get their name or initials inked on them as well.
Jennifer Kempton was one of these women, a sex slave before she escaped. Now she speaks out about what happened to alert people to the problem.
Jennifer’s first tattoo was straight-forward–“Property of Salem,” her first pimp. A crown was later added, accompanied by “King Munch,” the name of her pimp at the time.
Many women are forced into prostitution at a young age, sometimes as young as 12 or 13, by men who get them addicted to drugs and then only provide the drugs in exchange for sex work.
Even if the women are able to escape the horrible situation, they’re left with the scars of the crowns. That’s why Jennifer’s organization Survivor’s Ink helps to cover up the tattoos.
“It very much so is a psychological form of bondage,” Kempton told CNN.
“It ties you to those memories and it ties you to those feelings that you felt when you got that and to be able to be free of enslavement and then to make an active choice of, ‘This is what I want on my body, not this man’s name or this gang’s symbol, I want my daughter’s name, I want a beautiful flower, I want a religious scripture, I want a butterfly to show that I have wings, and I can fly.'”
Instead of just removing the crown tattoos, Survivor’s Ink turns the symbols into something else with the assistance of skilled tattoo artists.
Apart from looking into to donating to or otherwise helping the organization, you can also keep an eye out for women with crown tattoos. If you see one, they may need help in getting out of their situation.