Australian Woman Offers Free Tattoos To Cover The Scars On Recovered Self-Harmers
April 8, 2016
Self injury statistics show that this disturbing phenomenon is a real and present danger to vulnerable people worldwide. Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self injury.
But what happens once you've recovered? Then you have to deal with the stares and the judgement from complete strangers.
Twenty-two year old tattoo artist Whitney Develle from Brisbane, Australia, was at a party talking to her friend's girlfriend one night, when the girl pointed to the scars running up her arm.
She told Whitney she suffered from an eating disorder as a teenager and had cut "Don't Eat" into her arm. Now that she has recovered, the scars are a constant reminder of a troubled past, so she asked Whitney if she could she cover the scars with a tattoo.
Whitney told her she'd give it her best shot. She etched a bouquet of native Australian flowers across the pale zig zags.
The Scars Project was born.
"The way the tattoo made her feel, it was like she was wearing armour on top of her scars," Whitney said.
"Now the reaction she gets... 'where did you get that tattoo, that tattoo is beautiful' instead of looking directly at her scars and judging her. "Seeing the expression on her face and how happy it made her, I thought what a great idea to be able to do that for more people."
Whitney began offering her services for free; 1-2 days per week to cover scars with tattoos.
She's had an overwhelming response; over a thousand emails from everywhere from Indonesia to the United States.
"One of the most touching emails I read was from a grandmother who had self-harmed earlier in life... she said that her grandson would touch her scars and say 'Nanny, ouchy' and when I read that I just broke down. She's definitely on the list."
With every new tattoo, she shares their story with the photo.
"My name is Brianna.
At the age 12 I began cutting. I am 29 this month and haven't harmed myself in at least 4 years. It began when I started high school and continued into my adult life. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age 16 and was told I would most likely have to be medicated for life.
In my early 20s I suffered through a domestic violent relationship in which he ended up sentenced to 4 years jail. I suffered terribly with anxiety upon his release, but have taught myself new coping methods to help me deal, because life's not suppose to be easy.
You have to want to help yourself before anyone else can help you! My years of suffering are not something to be ashamed of neither are the scars left behind. They have shaped me into the person I am today.
Exercise is the BEST free medication you can try! Support is always bigger than the disease!!"
How did it get to the point where you could physically harm yourself? A question asked many times, eyes looking at my scars, judgement felt from the age of 16. NOT Are you okay? Do you need help? What's wrong?
After many years of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, hospital admission, attempted suicide, I didn't see much of life. I didn't want life.
Why have I chosen to cover my scars at the age of 28? It's one part of my life I regret, scarring my body.
Tell someone how you feel if you feel that bad that you can physically harm yourself, tell someone. There's people that will not judge you! You are stronger than you believe!"
From a young age (11-12) I have suffered from borderline personality disorder, anxiety and depression. I went through a lot of physical abuse which led to me using self harm and alcohol as a way to cope.
If I can give any advice it would be to never give up.
Good things are out there. I know that sometimes things feel hopeless but you can recover! It's hard, but so very worth it.
After 10 years of the worst times in my life I can finally say I've recovered. I still have bad days, but you just have to pick yourself up and stay strong.
Put yourself first always and don't worry about what people say or think!"
Whitney says her goal is not only to cover their scars, but to raise awareness for mental illness.
"I decided to do this to raise awareness for Mental Illness, and inform people of the options they do possibly have in covering their self harm. I want them to be confident again, to feel beautiful not just inside but out, to be able to leave the past behind them and venture on a more positive journey."
If you want to help, Whitney asks that you donate to a mental health charity, or, if you're a tattoo artist, consider joining The Scars Project.
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