Studies show that one in six women and one in seven men will have self-harmed at some point in their lives.
The phenomenon, which is replete with chilling statistics, is most prevalent in developed nations in North America and Western Europe, and 90 percent of those who self-harm begin in their teens. Often associated with anxiety and depression, the scars left behind serve as permanent reminders of people's darkest hours, and they linger long after their emotional wounds have healed.
One tattoo artist by the name of Whitney Develle had a heartbreaking confrontation with self-harm when she noticed that a friend's arms were slashed with thin scars that read, "Don't eat." The revelation that her friend trudged through such a horrific ordeal really got her thinking. If she could cover bad tattoos, could she cover self-harm scars, too?
Develle's friend agreed to let her test the waters. After careful planning and execution, she was left with a stunning tattoo that functioned as artistic armor against her past. In that moment, "The Scars Project" was born.
Her goal is simple. "I want people to be confident again," she writes, " and I want them to feel beautiful and to be able to leave the past behind them as they venture on a more positive journey.”
Since she began the endeavor, Develle has received outpourings from survivors who not only want to express their gratitude for her initiative, but to request appointments for their own tattoos.
She's made it her mission to provide as many free tattoos to survivors as possible.
And that's precisely what she'll be doing until the end of this year. Because the demand is so high, she'll offer her services for heavily discounted rates after that. Her goal is not to make a profit. It is to help her clients heal.
If anyone you know has self-harmed, you know that people stare — not at the person, but at their scars.
Develle hopes that through tattoo artistry, she can give survivors something beautiful to share with the world that has nothing to do with the marks that people on the outside fail to understand.
To learn more about Whitney Develle's work, be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram. If you'd like to donate to her project, check out this GoFundMe page.