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Covering Their Past: Former Trafficking Victim Helps Others Cover Up 'Branding' Tattoos


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COLUMBUS (Adam Aaro) -- A woman who survived the brutality of human trafficking says she is now helping other women escape the marks left behind by it. Jennifer Kempton started{}"Survivor's Ink" in February. The non-profit helps women cover up branding tattoos and scars put on them by those who kept them enslaved. Kempton says she accepts applications, and so far nine women have had the tattoos covered. A tattoo parlor in Lancaster has done the work at a discounted rate. {}"It's a form of psychological enslavement to have these tattoos and these brandings," Kempton said. Kempton would know, she says she had several on her after spending years of being sold, sexually and physically abused, and broken down. "You have to work for this man or you get beat," said Kempton. "You get raped and you get tortured."Kempton says abuse and abandonment throughout her life led her to men who preyed on those vulnerabilities. And by her late 20's those men branded her. "He put 'property of ...' above my genital area to label that as his property and his money maker," Kempton said. {}More branding tattoos followed and a few years later she hit her breaking point. "I was so desperate," Kempton said. "I was so miserable, and weak and broken and lost that I tied a rope around my neck twice and tried to hang myself in the basement of a crack house." The rope broke and she fell to the floor. Stunned and angry Kempton says then it dawned on her. "I had a moment of clarity and I felt like it was God himself speaking to me saying, I have a purpose for you and it's not to die in the basement of a crack house," Kempton said. "I knew that's what it meant when God said I had a purpose. It was to help those women find the freedom I found." From that day forward Kempton embraced sobriety and has been sober ever since. But she says everytime she took a shower or looked in the mirror the branding tattoos reminded her what she was trying to leave behind. A friend helped her cover up those tattoos. "I actually literally felt the chain of bondage break," Kempton said. And she says she realized her purpose was to help others break that bond too. "By fighting for them I am fighting for myself and that makes me feel damn good," Kempton said.Kempton says she's now trying to make "branding" a felonious assault in Ohio. She hopes to make the tattoo artists who brand think twice. You can find more information about Survivors Ink and how you can help here.If you would like to contact Survivor's Ink, you can email them at survivors.ink2013@yahoo.com{}

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