BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Maybe you were moved by Lady Gaga's performance of "Til It Happens To You" from the movie "Spotlight" at the 88th Academy Awards. Gaga's impassioned presentation was further heightened when she was joined during it by a couple of dozen sexual abuse victims, all with messages and a symbol on their arms.
Two young women, Tamara Palmer and Sarah Rippel, did not see the performance at the same time, but both had histories of sex molestation and abuse.
A few days after the performance, Tamara said TMZ's website stated that Lady Gaga and all the people on the stage got a particular tattoo. Palmer and Rippel decided then and there they would get the same tattoo that very weekend.
So on Saturday March 5 they went to Electric Seven, a tattoo place at 6031 Siegen. It was convenient because a friend of Sarah's owns it. As they were getting the tattoos, the tattoo employees found out that this special symbol, a burning rose, was a symbol binding a brother and sisterhood of sexual abuse victims.
The women chose to have it in teal because that is the color for sex abuse prevention. Electric Seven decided that for anyone else who came in wanting the same tattoo, part of the proceeds would be sent to STAR, Baton Rouge's relatively new Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response program.
Tamara Palmer said her sexual trauma did more than violate her body, it caused a mental block that years of therapy has not been able to cross.
"When I was around 10 years old, I was sexually molested by my best friend's dad for about a year. It had a huge impact on my childhood. I've been to a lot of therapy, and they've tried to hypnotize me to remember what happened not with the man or what he did, but remember my childhood and family trips and friends. All that is gone. All I know about trips is what my mom tells me and what I see in the pictures, but anything before my fourth grade I don't remember."
Rippel's wound is far more recent.
"Sarah was date-raped in college. That was the first thing that happened to her. It took her a very long time to get over that. Then she was also raped by a friend's husband last year," Tamara explained.
Were either of them worried about going public with this story about their tattoos? And will people ask them over and over what the tattoo is for, were they ready for that?
Palmer said hers is on her tummy, so people are not likely to see it. However talking about it apparently has been therapeutic.
"It makes it a lot easier on me," she said. "About 6 years ago, I decided to start talking about it to people. It makes it a lot easier for me, because it still affects me even today.
"There are things that happen that provoke the memory. But it makes me feel stronger to think that I recovered, went to college, got my degree, have a successful career. I have a wonderful husband and son! God provided for me even with all that happened, a happy ending and it allows me to know that I am truly a survivor!"
Palmer did say that she put a posting on Facebook briefly of the tattoo on her tummy before taking it down.
"I took it off because I might get in trouble at work. But I have friends who did not know what had happened to me, were shocked to learn. That makes us much closer as friends. I'll will explain my history, the tattoo to strangers too."
Tamara and Sarah hope that this story will help people who have been in the same situation and to let them know that they are not victims. They are SURVIVORS.