Kalamazoo tattoo shop helps victims feel at home in their bodies

Kalamazoo Tattoo Shop helps victims of domestic violence transform their scars into art.

Heirloom arts is not your average therapy session. This session may involve a needle, ink, and even a few tears.

“Everyone tells us what they’ve been through in some sort of way. We hear everything under the sun, and it’s a really wonderful experience because you get to know people so deeply,” said shop owner Mae Risk.

Whether it’s a tattoo of an abuser’s name or a burn scar, the shop artists work to help survivors cover them up.

“It can give you the ability to take a part of your body that you might, that might not be your favorite about yourself and put something on it that you love, that you got to choose what goes there,” said lead artist Tempest Anderson.

Risk says Heirloom Arts is known as the “queer shop.” It’s staffed with only women and non-binary artists. “Honestly a lot of us are abuse victims in our own ways, both emotional and physical, and we know how important it is to get things like that covered up and we know how hard it is to live with stuff like that in your daily life,” they said.

Anderson told FOX 17 that the most popular tattoo survivors will request is the phoenix— a symbol of rising from the ashes.

The YWCA allowed the shop to offer survivors tattoos at a significant discounted rate or completely free.

The Kalamazoo Startup Center gave the shop the commitment-to excellence award. Mae hopes the shop will provide safe space for all who use it.

If you’d like to inquire about this service you can do so here Click here for a complete listing of YWCA services. here.

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