Sexual Assault Survivors Are Uniting Under This Tattoo

You probably remember the performance of Lady Gaga at the Academy Awards in 2016. Her song "Til It Happens To You" was part of the documentary The Hunting Ground about campus rape.

The singer and actress, famous for her roles in American Horror Story, was then joined on stage by 50 survivors of sexual assault. Of course, Harvey Weinstein, as well as many of the women who later testified against him, were in the room that night, watching it.

Two years later, the image seems bitter... But something good started that night that hinted at the change we are witnessing today.

During the performance rehearsal, Lady Gaga and the survivors decided to get inked. They wanted to celebrate this moment by turning their personal and painful experiences into a movement that would help end the isolation of sexual assault survivors, and offer them an inspiration to keep on fighting.

The idea for the tattoo resonates with the recent #Metoo and other hashtags, which offered a heartbreaking view at the number of abuse victims in the world. Lady Gaga has tweeted #Metoo herself. In a video they released on October 25th, the singer looks right at the camera and states:

"I am a sexual assault survivor and I know the effects, the aftermath, the trauma: psychological, physical, mental. It can be terrifying waking up every day feeling unsafe in your own body."

According to Gaga, tattooing helped her reclaim her body after the assault. The tattoo she's sporting on her shoulder is now present on the skin of thousands of survivors. It is called a Fire Rose Unity Survivor tattoo

The Fire Rose Unity Survivor tattoo was designed by California-based illustrator Jacqueline Lin. On her website, she describes it :

"It is a unity symbol inspired by the loops of our DNA structure and our universal infinity sign. It combines inspiration from Lady Gaga's favorite flower – the white rose – to breathe life into an organic and growing symbol.

The final image embraces a fiery shape to give us power and strength everywhere we go."

Although Fire Rose tattoos are two years old now, women – and men – keep inking them on their bodies as a way to show their connection, their strength and their will to be something else than just victims. The movement ignited by Lady Gaga and the 50 survivors of the Oscars is more topical than ever, proving that the fight is never over.

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Writer for tattoo and art related medias, as well as author of crime novels. I live in Paris.