Sacramento program erases tattoos that serve as painful reminders for sex trafficking survivors

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The world of sex trafficking is both equally dangerous and abusive. Sometimes, traffickers will tattoo sex workers as a way of taking ownership. Those tattoos are painful scars for survivors, even years after they’ve escaped.Janette Diaz knows that pain far too well. She was trafficked by her own mother when she was just 12 years old. Diaz would spend years on the streets controlled by pimps. They not only forced her to sell her body, but they also put tattoos on her arm and neck. “I was branded by a pimp, so I was their property,” Diaz said. “Even though I’ve been out of the lifestyle and even though I gained my freedom back, I still look at that, and it’s a constant reminder of that person who trafficked me.”But help is on the way. Nine years ago, Dignity Health Methodist Hospital began its Human Trafficking Safe Haven Program.”If you have people that are dealing with days, weeks, months, years and decades of trauma for abusive exploitation, they are going to need our ongoing help,” said Dr. Ron Chambers, who helps survivors in the program.The Safe Haven program gives victims access to everything from annual physical evaluations to substance use treatment. It also includes removing ink deeply embedded in the skin.”If you are looking at something in the mirror every day that reminds you of your trafficker and these horrendous portions of your life, and obviously if that wasn’t there, it would be a huge piece of your recovery,” Chambers added.The free program is aimed at truly setting sex-trafficked survivors free.”I’ve been blown away by what an effect this has and us being a part of this for these patients,” Chambers said.For survivors like Diaz, it is a fresh start that makes the symbols that kept them in captivity disappear. “It’s important to me to not have these tattoos anymore because I’m tired of being that old Janette and this is one of the biggest pieces that has kept me in that mind frame of that old Janette. And I’m not Janette the survivor anymore. I’m just Janette,” Diaz said.| Do you know someone impacted by sex trafficking in Northern California? | Here’s a list of places that can helpThe story was produced in connection to the KCRA 3 Investigates documentary “Escaping The Blade” about sex trafficking in Sacramento County. Watch the full report here.See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

The world of sex trafficking is both equally dangerous and abusive. Sometimes, traffickers will tattoo sex workers as a way of taking ownership. Those tattoos are painful scars for survivors, even years after they’ve escaped.

Janette Diaz knows that pain far too well. She was trafficked by her own mother when she was just 12 years old. Diaz would spend years on the streets controlled by pimps. They not only forced her to sell her body, but they also put tattoos on her arm and neck.

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“I was branded by a pimp, so I was their property,” Diaz said. “Even though I’ve been out of the lifestyle and even though I gained my freedom back, I still look at that, and it’s a constant reminder of that person who trafficked me.”

But help is on the way. Nine years ago, Dignity Health Methodist Hospital began its Human Trafficking Safe Haven Program.

“If you have people that are dealing with days, weeks, months, years and decades of trauma for abusive exploitation, they are going to need our ongoing help,” said Dr. Ron Chambers, who helps survivors in the program.

The Safe Haven program gives victims access to everything from annual physical evaluations to substance use treatment. It also includes removing ink deeply embedded in the skin.

“If you are looking at something in the mirror every day that reminds you of your trafficker and these horrendous portions of your life, and obviously if that wasn’t there, it would be a huge piece of your recovery,” Chambers added.

The free program is aimed at truly setting sex-trafficked survivors free.

“I’ve been blown away by what an effect this has and us being a part of this for these patients,” Chambers said.

For survivors like Diaz, it is a fresh start that makes the symbols that kept them in captivity disappear.

“It’s important to me to not have these tattoos anymore because I’m tired of being that old Janette and this is one of the biggest pieces that has kept me in that mind frame of that old Janette. And I’m not Janette the survivor anymore. I’m just Janette,” Diaz said.

| Do you know someone impacted by sex trafficking in Northern California? | Here’s a list of places that can help

The story was produced in connection to the KCRA 3 Investigates documentary “Escaping The Blade” about sex trafficking in Sacramento County. Watch the full report here.

See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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