FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A local organization is shedding light about an inhumane practice -- affecting women of all ages. In a special report Action News Anchor Veronica Miracle tells us how victims of sex abuse -- in our own community -- are being "branded."
But being in this seat takes guts. Not long ago, these markings were more than just tattoos. And getting them lasered off, wasn't possible. Arien Pauls remembers the day she got one on her chest.
"It was in someone's garage in a house. It was very painful, it was very uncomfortable. Afterward I was forced to provide services to pay for this branding," said Pauls.
Branding on the streets, identifies prostitutes by their pimps. For years, a rose on Paul's chest meant she had "an owner."
"When you think of branding you think of cows and cattlemen and animals being marked so that if they go astray -- people know how to get them back to their person that owns them. How can you do that when you're talking about human beings?" said Breaking the Chains co-founder Tiffany Apodaca.
Apodaca and her partner Debra Woods are building Breaking the Chains from the ground up. They help victims do just that... shatter the shackles of sex slavery. "Almost every woman that I've ever worked on the streets with, that I've worked now with through Breaking the Chains, all share the same story. At some point they said no more," said Woods.
The non-profit is in the process of creating the first safe house for adult women, who are survivors of sex trafficking. Despite their best efforts though, some of the damage, can't be undone.
"I graduated with a 95, top five percentile in my class with honors. And I would be in that field, but I'm a criminal," said Pauls.
Some binds are harder to break, but here the first step, starts with bravery and a laser.
The organization Breaking the Chains hopes to build five safe houses for sex trafficking victims in the next five years. For more information on how you can help visit their website.
The free tattoo removal service was provided for the non-profit by Beautologie Fresno. http://www.beautologie.com/locations/fresno/