Jessica Lamb knows personally how damaging tattoos can be—particularly for survivors of trafficking and commercial sex exploitation, former gang members, and those who have self-harmed. “Getting the tattoos covered that my trafficker used to claim me as property really brought a sense of empowerment and closure that I think no other resource could provide,” says Lamb, who founded the nonprofit Atlanta Redemption Ink to help other survivors find that same healing.
Since its founding in 2017, the organization has served more than 500 clients with tattoo cover-ups, removals, and scar revision thanks to the help of relationships in the tattoo industry, as well as law enforcement agencies and the medical community. Someone marked with a gang symbol could have the tattoo turned into a flower, for instance. “Having that constant reminder covered with something of my choosing felt liberating and empowering and that the shame was broken off ,” says Lamb. “The process of the cover-up was really life changing. I felt like I could finally move forward and be the furthest away from my exploitation as possible.”
In addition to the tattoo work, Atlanta Redemption Ink also provides “beyond ink” services that include counseling, educational opportunities, and life coaching. Lamb has worked in the anti-trafficking and advocacy arena since 2013, and now, 10 years later, she has an even greater confidence to speak to groups and be a fierce advocate for her survivor friends. A mother to two children, she lives in East Atlanta and finds joy in art—and it’s no surprise that she uses her gifts to give back to the community. “I work at a local behavioral health clinic as their art therapist and provide group art therapy to clients in their programs,” says Lamb. “It’s another part of what I have the honor of doing that brings me joy.”