x
Breaking News
More () »

Bill would make branding someone against their will a felony in Washington

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, would also authorize the use of state funds to pay for the removal or altering of tattoos, brands, or other marks.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Decades after Darly Abbott escaped from those who forced her into prostitution, she was still haunted whenever she got undressed.

“Every time you take a shower, every time you go swimming,” Abbott said. “Even when you die, it’s still with you.”

Abbott said her “madame” made Abbott get a tattoo of a goldfish on her bikini line when she was 19. She said it made her feel like property.

“When I was told to get the tattoo, it’s like, ‘You’ll never forget you belong to me, wherever you go, if anyone sees you, they will return you to me,” Abbott said.

Last Friday, Abbott told members of the Washington state House Public Safety Committee they should pass a proposal to make branding someone against their will a felony.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, would also authorize the use of state funds to pay for the removal or altering of tattoos, brands, or other identifying marks.

”We even saw that subdermal implants were being placed in people's bodies to keep track of them,” said Mosbrucker (R-Goldendale).

She said the bill seems to have support from both parties.

Committee chair Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) supports the idea of creating a new felony for the crime.

“I was alarmed to hear about this despicable practice,” Goodman said on Monday.

Forty years after being made to get the tattoo, Abbott got hers removed following six laser procedures in 2015, thanks to support from the Hidden Creek Community Church.

The goldfish is not completely gone. Abbott likes to think it looks like a blue heart now. It’s empowering, she said.

“It’s evidence of me saying, ‘No, I’m not yours. I’m a human. I can’t be bought," she said.

By working with legislators, Abbott hopes others will be able to erase disturbing reminders of their past.

“However you can help somebody get free and gain their life again and thrive - where they barely survived - I’m for that," she said.

Before You Leave, Check This Out