Listen to and view real world experiences from actual trafficking survivors.
"Becoming "unbranded" is a feeling I never thought imaginable. I am now overwhelmed with strength, resilience, and freedom. For a very long time I put myself down because of my past and I was constantly reminded of what I'd been through and what I felt I would never be every time I looked at my body. Not seeing my brand anymore lets me know that I am someone and that my past doesn't define me. The past is no longer dark and the light no longer frightens me. I smile more and I'm able to laugh more, and I'm learning to love myself. The impact of being "unbranded" has given me the drive to define who I am and appreciate where I'm going in life and I will forever be grateful. Thank you Scott Vaughan, you are truly a godsend." - Anonymous Survivor
"For years it was like my trafficker still had control over me. There were certain clothes I couldn't wear because I was so embarassed of it. Having this tattoo removed is like a final chain being broken, no longer having to look at a constant reminder. I'm finally free!" - Anonymous Survivor
“When I did my first tattoo removal in January 2021 and when the patient came back six weeks later to get a final treatment, I was totally blown away at the amount of ink that was removed from the tattoo from that one treatment. So, I immediately saw that there is something that I can do to give back to the community using this technology,” Vaughan said.
A short time later, he and a friend founded “Unbranded”, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping survivors of human and sex trafficking get rid of tattoos and other physical markings that were put on them when they were trafficked or abused.
“I knew about sex trafficking, human trafficking, but I never knew they were branded by their pimp or trafficker to claim ownership, to show which pimp or which trafficker owns that person. When I started doing the research on it, it really moved me,” said Vaughan.
“When you put a person’s name on your body, you’re pretty much saying well you own me and that’s what I did all my life allowing a man to pretty much own me. I had multiple names on me. I can’t even explain the feeling. It’s like you’re nothing and you’re somebody’s property and their full control over you. I was just very ashamed and embarrassed. I felt foolish. It’s just not a good feeling to have when you’re standing in front of the mirror and you see all these names on you,” one survivor told me.
I recently met a survivor who I’m going to call Donna. She came from the Midwest but has been living in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast for almost a decade now. Through Unbranded’s free services, Donna has undergone several sessions with Vaughan to remove tattoos that were placed on her during years of abuse. Donna says the process has been life changing. So far, Vaughan has helped more than three dozen survivors. He believes he’s actually getting more out of the experience than the survivors.