DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A new grant program up to $10,000 is being offered to nonprofit organizations who serve human trafficking survivors for covering up and removing their tattoos.
For many, tattoos provide an outlet to show their passions and creativity, but for human trafficking survivors, it can be a painful reminder of the trauma they have endured.
Often, their tattoos and markings are forced on them by pimps and drug dealers to identify their victims.
“Physical violence, sexual violence, and then to have something tattooed on your body saying that you’re someone else’s property and that’s just a terrible thing for them to have to go through,” said Mandi Chalmers, the domestic violence shelter navigator at YWCA.
On Thursday, Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost, announced the grants to help human trafficking victims get tattoos and other markings removed.
The program will be named after Jennifer Kempton, a human trafficking survivor who died in 2017.
Kempton founded the Columbus-based Survivor’s Ink to help the victims cover the tattoos.
Sarah Wolf-Knight, YWCA’s grants and advocacy manager, said they were excited to hear the news but were disappointed to learn funding is not coming to the Miami Valley just yet.
The grants have to be approved by courts with specialty dockets that address human trafficking.
“Out of the 88 counties in Ohio, this program is only going to affect four,” said Wolf-Knight. “That really is just the greater Cleveland area, the Akron area, the Cincinnati area and the Columbus area.”
Wolf-Knight said they are hopeful the program expands because Ohio ranks fifth in the U.S. for number of human trafficking victims, and that is seen in the Miami Valley
“In Ohio because of the intersections of all of the different highways, especially here in the Miami Valley, it is something that’s pretty prevalent,” said Wolf-Knight.
If you are a survivor of human trafficking or know someone who is, YWCA has a hotline that runs 24/7.
Fore more information on the services they provide, click here.