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This Tattoo Artist Is Helping Survivors Of Domestic Abuse Turn Their Scars Into Art

Yevgeniya Zhakar, a tattoo artist in Russia, has been overwhelmed by the number of women turning to her to help take back their bodies.

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Yevgeniya Zhakar, a tattoo artist in Ufa, Russia has been helping survivors of abuse of open up about their experiences by offering free tattoos to cover their scars.

Zhakhar told the Associated Press that she got the idea after learning about Flavia Carvalho, a tattoo artist in Brazil who launched a similar project, and began transforming scars like this one from a gunshot wound into art.

Flavia Carvalho / Via Facebook: fla.tattoo

Brazil's Carvalho told the Huffington Post at the time he started his project, “It is wonderful to see how their relationship with their bodies changes after they get the tattoos.”

Zakhar decided to offer tattoos free of charge last year and since then has been overwhelmed — both by the number of women seeking her out and by their stories.

Vadim Braydov / AP

“It's really scary, scary to look at this problem and hear what people are saying," she told the AP.

Women say that the tattoos help them feel more comfortable in public because people stop asking about the scars and start complimenting their tattoos, she added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law earlier this week decriminalizing “light” domestic abuse this week. While the law’s sponsors argue that it will give families an opportunity to resolve their conflicts without unnecessary state intervention, Amnesty International has called the law “a sickening attempt to further trivialize domestic violence” and said that the law “rides roughshod over women’s rights.”

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According to Human Rights Watch, citing the Russian government's statistics, 40% of all violent crimes in Russia are committed within the family.

Vadim Braydov / AP

One of Zakhar's clients, Katarina Golkova, had to have surgery on her arm after her boyfriend threw her into a window.

Golkova said that the new law gets domestic abuse all wrong.

Vadim Braydov / AP

“It all starts with one slap," she told the Associated Press. "You forgive them once, and it gets worse. You can't forgive such things. They will happen again."

Zhakar says she's worked with more than 1,000 survivors of abuse since she started the project last year — none of them have been helped by the police, she adds.

Vadim Braydov / AP

"The girls say, 'What's the point? Why go to the police if they are not helping?'"

"Girls are willing to talk, often because it will be the last time they speak about the scars," she said.

Vadim Braydov / AP

"They don't talk about it later because they will be talking about their beautiful tattoo, not a scar."

Otillia Steadman is a world assistant for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Otillia Steadman at otillia.steadman@buzzfeed.com.

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