(CBS) — Healing through ink, that’s the mission for a Los Angeles tattoo artist who helps victims of assault with ‘tattoo therapy.’
Now some experts say this method could help others who are hoping to reclaim control following a traumatic experience.
This prison-style tattoo session is therapy.
“It just makes this really soft tapping pulling sound as it goes underneath the skin,” said Sabrina Drescher: Tattoo Artist.
Each tap is another step on the long journey of healing for Alissa Merz, who was sexually assaulted.
“I really felt like I knew him,” said Alissa Merz: Sexual Assault Survivor.
It starts with Merz sharing her story with the artist
“My solution was to play dead,” Alissa Merz: Sexual Assault Survivor.
The artist comes up with images and patterns
Now Merz is in control, choosing to tattoo her hip because that’s where her attacker grabbed her during the assault.
The pain from the needles on her terms releases endorphins and rebrands the trauma.
“Right now, I’ve just been thinking about how strong my body is,” said Merz.
“It’s a gift,” said Drescher
Sabrina Drescher is a tattoo artist focused on healing trauma.
“Tattooing is painful, but it’s self-initiated; it kind of allows you to use all those elements that have been used to take your body away from you and use them to get them back,” said Drescher.
She’s one of many artists a new trend of tattoo therapy, utilizing the pain from the needles to reclaim trauma
Sometimes it takes the form of transforming scars from an accident or in Merz’s case reclaiming her body after an assault.
“They’ve had their personal control taken away and retaking that through tattoos can be a powerful experience,” said Dr. Andrea Bonior: Clinical Psychologist, Georgetown University.
Mental health experts say this new trend in tattooing can be an extremely effective therapy.
“Asserting control over your own body once again, and you’re creating something that feels artistic and meaningful to you,” said Bonior.
Taking back control, one stick, and poke at a time.
“I’m a stronger, more resilient version of myself. I wanted to put myself in control of the narrative,” said Merz.