“The strength of our survivors is such a remarkable asset”, says Jenice, doma’s Chemical Dependency Counselor. Today, Jenice was able to witness and work through some really tough issues with our dear *Melinda, as she received her first treatment for tattoo removal. And we’re not just talking about a rose on her ankle or a dolphin swimming around her belly button.
After the “numbing” cream stayed on for about 20 minutes (which did nothing according to Melinda), Dr. Hicks-Graham enters the room with 2 of her medical staff to begin the process of removing the brand “grandaddy” that Melinda has worn for much of her adult life. With Melinda’s permission, the doctor explains to her staff the significance behind today’s procedure and shares information about Judge Herbert, the CATCH program, and the ways that doma supports these beautiful survivors.
Melinda begins to explain to us the history behind her tattoos. Pointing to the side of her neck,”we started on this side, and it wouldn’t take. So he made me try the other side. That one stayed,” Melinda reveals.
“Is that something they do often?” asks the doctor. (they, as in, “the pimps”).
“Yes, it’s like a, a…”
“A brand!” Jenice interjects to assist Melinda with the adjective she was looking for.
“Only two of us had this tho,” Melinda shares, pointing to the tattoo on her neck. “The other girl died,” Melinda explains as she begins to stare outside the window remembering the young lady who she once ran the streets with. “She was murdered”, she continued, giving all of us a glimpse into her past life.
In a room where are all now silent, from the initial shock of Melinda’s reality, Dr. Hicks-Graham (moved to compassion) says,
“It’s time for that to come off.”
The procedure was extremely painful. Melinda was ready to give up at first: “Nope, I can’t do it. Stop! Just forget it!”, she cried. However, being the strong willed survivor that she is, she persevered, and made it through the first step.
Way to go, Melinda! Way to go, Jenice! Way to go those of you who helped raise funds and donate toward this amazing effort. Phew! What a day. Only 7 or so more treatments to go before ‘grandaddy’ is gone… and that’s not counting the ‘treatment’ needed for the emotional and trauma healing that Melinda faces every single day.