An Anonymous tip for those considering The Survivor’s Mark:
Print out a stencil and apply The Mark with Henna tattoo ink. That way you can have a “trial run” of sorts, to test if you’re ready to see the permanent reminder on your body, and answer questions other people are certain to ask about it.
I have pictures of 36, excluding mine. I get emails sometimes about “sightings.” At last count there are Survivor’s/Protector’s Marks in 12…countries? I’m not great at geography. (The US, The UK—England & Ireland, Canada—British Columbia & Ontario, Africa—Egypt & South Africa, Brazil, France, Spain, New Zealand, and Victoria, Australia.) I’m certain there are more, I simply haven’t been notified (which is more than okay with me; I hope no one who desires a Mark feels any obligation to ask/inform me. I do love getting pictures, though.)
I also am contacted about merchandise, which I once upon a time thought about creating and selling/giving away, but it’s one of those things you need money for and that I simply don’t have. As such, I’ve forgone a copyright/trademark and just sort of…unleashed the premise on the world. People have made jewelry and fan art, some have painted Marks on their walls, others have taken the tattoo to heights I never could have imagined. Some people don’t like the idea of the handprint, but they take the idea behind it and use that inspire their own “Mark.” Really all I care about is letting other Survivors know they aren’t alone.
It truly is the most humbling frickin’ thing imaginable, to have people take this tiny idea I had and turn it into a global movement of love and hope and togetherness.
Annnnnd, cue the waterworks!
From our Facebook page:
Nicolewhen i was looking for the perfect tat to help me with the courage to heal i came across this on google….THANK YOU…it reads
“MARKED, BUT NOT MAIMED
BENT, BUT NOT BROKEN
ABUSED,BUT NOT ABANDONED.
I AM A SURVIVOR.”
An Anonymously Submitted Mark, sent with this message:
Hi i would like to submit my tattoo to your page and also use this opportunity to say that i love your page and it is a wonderful idea. i would like to stay anonymous though please. My tattoo is to remind me to always believe in myself and that things can change and get better. The butterfly is also to show that I can transform into something better and not be held back by the rape.
thanks a lot
your fellow survivour x
The scars run deep inside this tattooed body, there’s things I’ll take to my grave. but I’m okay.
A couple of you have asked about my tattoos. So let’s talk. I can preface this by saying that I am *not* someone who got “one of those” tattoos when I was 18 just because I could.
I was too level-headed for that. At least, that is how I regarded my choice.
And, I also lacked a strong urge to get a tattoo. Worried about picking something eternally meaningful, I always opted to hold off. They’re forever, right?
But in the way that a tattoo can be a statement by the person wearing it, it makes a different statement to everyone who sees it. And, although tattooing is becoming less low-bro, less biker/rocker/prisoner (whatever the stereotype), body art can carry stigma or suggested not-intended or not-applicable.
Effectually, a tattoo can speak *for* a person. I wasn’t down with it.
Not simply because I don’t let anything speak for me. I was trying to blend in at prep school or in the ivy league or in medical school or in corporate america (all foreign planets compared to my early years). I was literally afraid that if I committed to my own opinion—or even committed to the process of finding and refining my own opinions—I’d forfeit my ability to “pass” in these foreign worlds within which I had worked so hard to position myself.
Much in the way that I was afraid to write, I was afraid to have something “permanent” stating something so important or meaningful to me where everyone could see it. The way I thought and the way I looked both parts of what could betray me. I was always one f-bomb, one salacious thought, one outward display of my penchant for lime green away from being banished permanently.
But since starting this blog, developing my platform and voice and starting my life in media, I can’t help but think, “What the fuck?!”
Anyone who is creative and is or has worked or lived in a way has felt this frustration. Why do we need permission to be awesome or show our brilliance? Why is there a passport system, gated channels, difficult titrations of behaviors, events, check-boxes of life events that *might* eventually get you into a position or job where you can make your own statement rather than work on behalf of someone else’s?
If you wait for that day to come, it’ll probably always be a long work week for you. Want to make a change? Don’t ask, just start doing the work. What you want is more likely to meet you half way.
I’ve gotten both of my tattoos in the last year. It’s no small coincidence that I’ve taken responsibility for my life and my voice in the same time-frame.
A new friend of mine asked me, in the midst of a conversation, if I was as candid with everyone as I was with him. Well, yeah, I am. I’m not guarded or afraid to represent myself. We’ve had a different collection of experiences (of course) so we are a different collection of sentiments and features.
This is the awesome part. To have individual brilliance, you have to be open enough with yourself and your (potentially different and weird but ultimately beautiful) image to finding what makes you tick and committing 100% to whatever that is. Whether you are covered in tats or you have virgin skin, you don’t need permission to cultivate and own those elements, but you have to be willing to make a statement.
My thoughts on tattoos, more eloquently than I’d have ever put them.
It’s been more than three years since I got my first tattoo, my Survivor’s Mark. Like the OP, “It’s no small coincidence that I’ve taken responsibility for my life and my voice in the same time-frame.”
I’ve gotten two more since April 2008. I thought growing up I’d never get something permanent “done” to my body, but here I am at 27 with 3 tattoos and a half-sleeve idea in the works. I don’t regret my ink in any way. I used to worry that other people would see them and judge me, but that faded the moment I got the Mark and realized that my tattoos are not for other people. They are my reminders of things I mustn’t ever forget. I need them. And I look forward to loving them until the day I die; which, would have probably been three years ago, if not for this “simple” tattoo on my wrist.