If you have a tattoo, there’s probably a good reason why you chose that particular design to adorn your body for life. While some get them on a whim, most people choose to get inked to commemorate a special occasion, to remember or pay tribute to a loved one, or to tell their life story. But for some people, getting a tattoo can be a way to start over, regain their personal power, or take control over the course of their lives.

Nowadays, a majority of people who’ve had traumatic experiences in the past are turning to tattoos to reclaim their life. Most of these people have been literally and figuratively scarred, and their new ink has helped them regain their confidence and purpose. If you’re looking for a positive or artistic way to move on from a painful experience, perhaps getting a tattoo may be just what you need to remind you of your inner strength.

Tattoos to cover up self-harm scars

An alarming study has revealed that there is a rising number of people who self-harm in the US. Findings from the research showed that about two million cases are reported annually in the country, and 60% of those who engage in this behavior are females. Although some eventually stop self-harming, the scars left behind by this practice may leave one feeling insecure, ashamed, or guilty.

Some tattoo artists can empathize with these negative feelings, which is why some professionals, such as Kenneth Shaw, have started to offer their services for free to cover up self-harm scars. The Arizona-based tattoo shop owner spoke with ABC news, saying that he has tattooed around a hundred friends and clients who wanted to cover their self-harm scars with beautiful skin art. After getting inked, Shaw says that his clients were able to regain their self-esteem and confidence.

Body art for healing and beauty

Cancer can be one of the most harrowing things that the human body can go through. Women who have fought breast cancer know this all too well as not only do cancer treatments wreak havoc with your system but some procedures, such as a mastectomy, can change one’s body forever. Not only do you lose one—or both—breasts, but it leaves a scar that can make most women feel unattractive and undesirable.

Some women who’ve had a mastectomy opt to undergo a breast reconstruction, but a growing number of women are choosing to hide their scars with beautiful tattoos. Go on Instagram or YouTube and you’ll find hundreds of women sharing pictures or videos of their breath-taking skin art ranging from delicate flowers to powerful or symbolic images. One recent example is Stephanie Kelly, who opted to get a Wonder Woman and phoenix tattoo design on her chest after getting a double mastectomy. Speaking with PEOPLE, the mother of four said that she decided to celebrate her scars by getting inked.

“I have this image of strength, power, and fearlessness across my chest and that continues to build me up,” said Kelly. “I see my scars now as entirely positive.”

Ink for empowerment

Unfortunately, some of life’s most traumatic moments aren’t caused by a disease, they’re brought on by other people. For people who have experienced assault or rape, it can be difficult to survive the aftermaths of these experiences. But some are rising up and getting meaningful tattoos to serve as a reminder to stay strong, and the people who care about them are also getting inked to show their support.

Last June 10, the annual ‘Still Not Asking For It’ national tattoo event saw dozens of tattoo parlors over 30 cities participating in this meaningful cause. From ink that reads “No Means No” to empowering phrases such as “This does not define you,” these words can be both comforting and empowering to those who have been sexually assaulted.

Tattoos are more than just plain body art. Some tattoos can be a source of inspiration, comfort, and encouragement to those who need it the most. Whatever you’ve been through, you can get inked with a design or a powerful statement to remind you that you’re a fighter and that you’re ready to live your best life yet.

1. Tattoo Psychology: Art or Self-Destruction? Modern-Day Social Branding, Huffington Post,https://www.huffingtonpost.com/reef-karim-do/psychology-of-tattoos_b_2017530.html

2. Self Injury, Self Harm Statistics And Facts, Healthy Place,https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/self-injury/self-injury-self-harm-statistics-and-facts

3. Tattoo Artist Giving Away Services To Cover Up Self-Harm Scars, ABC Arizona,https://www.abc15.com/news/region-southeast-valley/mesa/tattoo-artist-giving-away-services-to-cover-up-self-harm-scars

4. Woman Gets A Wonder Woman Tattoo Over Her Double Mastectomy Scar, PEOPLE,https://people.com/bodies/wonder-woman-tattoo-double-mastectomy-scars/

5. On June 10, You Can Get A Tattoo To Benefit Sexual Assault Survivors, Allure,https://www.allure.com/story/still-not-asking-for-it-tattoo-benefit-sexual-assault