It’s not usual for a tattoo shop to ink more than 100 people in a single day, but this day was different.
And these simple black images, says tattoo artist Ashley Love, can be a permanent symbol of hope for those who carry invisible but indelible marks left by sexual assault.
“Getting a tattoo is a nice way of reclaiming your own body, to help tell yourself that you’re in charge,” said Love, who said she has experienced sexual assault.
She created the first “Still Not Asking For It” fundraising event in 2015, when she worked in New York. This year, Salt Lake City’s Yellow Rose Tattoo was one of 56 shops around the world that participated.
All proceeds go to organizations that work to prevent sexual assault and support victims; Yellow Rose has donated to the Rape Recovery Center for the past three years.
The idea is to get as many people tattooed and raise as much money during the timeframe as possible. Love asked the nine participating artists to each create a few designs that would be fun and quick to tattoo — all basic black line work, with no customization.
Some designs symbolized “hope and strength and that sort of thing,” Love said, but there were also simple, classic images like hearts, flowers, various animals and skulls and daggers.
The shop also had a raffle and other merchandise for sale.
Last year, the shop did 127 tattoos and raised $21,000. Love estimated that at least that many tattoos were inked Sunday. The shop ended up raising $23,000 for the center.
The funds will support the Rape Recovery Center’s hospital response teams, according to Stephany Murguia, the group’s outreach coordinator. When a victim of sexual assault goes to a hospital for help, a certified crisis counselor from the team is called and arrives within 30 minutes. He or she remains with the victim before, during and after the medical interview and examination, to answer questions and provide support, including ensuring the victim has a safe place to stay.
Last year, calls from emergency rooms for sexual assaults increased 70 percent, Murguia said. “We weren’t planning on a 70 percent increase, and that’s a lot in a year.”
The center is focused on the immediate needs of survivors, so it’s amazing when a community member steps up to help raise funds, she said.
And the center’s clients are able to see that people “from all walks of life” participated, she said, and that “they stand with you, and they’re putting something on their bodies to show their support.”
Jenna Lynn Hase, who got a tattoo of a heart with the word “myself” written through it, heard about the flash tattoo event through Instagram.
She was was a victim of sexual assault when she was younger, she said, and is now getting a master’s in social work at the University of Utah. She plans to be a trauma-focused therapist.
Seeing members of the community show up to get tattoos to support sexual assault victims warmed her heart, she said, because victims often feel guilt and shame and believe it happened only to them.
“But having people in the community say this happens to a lot of women and a lot of men and we’re here for you and we want to hear your stories, it’s just beautiful,” Hase said.