Tattoo artist sheds light on self-harm by offering half-price scar cover-ups

One local tattoo artist is shedding some light on the topic through ink, offering to cover up anyone's self-injury scars for half the price./ Mike Duran -- FOX21 News
One local tattoo artist is shedding some light on the topic through ink, offering to cover up anyone's self-injury scars for half the price./ Mike Duran -- FOX21 News

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s something that affects more people than we know. Even research on self-harm is bleak because it’s not easy to talk about.

One local tattoo artist is shedding some light on the topic through ink, offering to cover up anyone’s self-injury scars for half the price.

FOX21 sat down with Michael Truitt, a veteran tattooist at Pens and Needles in Colorado Springs.

Truitt and a very brave client of his opened up about their struggles and what it takes to get out of that dark place.

Some say it’s like a drug.

“I started when I was around like 10, 11,” said Rachel Grimes.

But with this high comes pain, in more ways than one.

Truitt said, “I found that as morbid as it may sound, it felt similar to get a tattoo.”

Unlike the sting of needles pushing ink into your skin, this hurts much deeper.

“For me it was well both of my parents being military, they were always gone all over the place, mainly my dad was but my mom had a lot of her own mental health issues,” said Grimes.

Truitt said, “At least in my case, there had been a lot of abuse so rather than trying to heal past that abuse, I was reliving it over and over again with self-harm.”

Truitt was just 13 or 14 when he first started cutting himself.

“It was almost like a fashion statement to me and later there was some small catharsis,” said Truitt. “There was some momentary feeling better throughout this dark area in my life.”

For Grimes, it wasn’t about the attention.

“I was the type of person who kept it really secretive.” Grimes said, “It wasn’t until I was 16 and I had been doing it for almost 5 years that someone actually noticed.”

Self-harm knows no bounds, no gender, no race, no age, but sufferers tend to start in their teens.

Truitt said, “As with most coping mechanisms the idea is to relieve stress.”

“It would work for maybe a day tops but then all of those emotions would just come right back just as hard, if not harder and then I would be right back at it,” said Grimes.

Grimes continued to cut herself into her early twenties. It wasn’t until college that a close friend forced her to talk.

“I was the caretaker always because of the situation with my parents and stuff and so I didn’t want to have to give anyone a reason to take care of me so for me,” said Grimes.

“There are many, many better methods.” Truitt said. “Simply talking to someone is a hell of a good start. All it takes is a simple communication.”

Truitt’s self-harm went on for decades, cutting himself until his late twenties. He says he ultimately figured out that even though the wounds healed, the pain didn’t go away.

“A misconception is that you’re crazy if you’re cutting yourself and we all make bad choices and it only takes just a second to leave a scar that lasts a lifetime,” said Truitt.

While self-harm scars may fade, they can never be erased.

Truitt said, “In the case of the scars, I felt that there was definitely some prejudice against my current mental state.”

“You can see it when their eyes cut down and catch your scars and stuff like that and so it wasn’t even necessarily so much that I felt bad about them being there anymore but it was just I didn’t want people to see that and think that I’m either still doing that or that I’m still stuck in that place or that I’m not a healthy individual,” said Grimes.

It was that same insecurity that inspired Truitt to start covering his scars with beautiful works of art.

Truitt said, “You’re taking a part of your life that you may have felt ashamed about and turned it into something that you can be proud of that you can show off as a badge of honor, a strength you know, a trophy if you will for a period that you have surpassed, some part of your life that you made it through.”

He’s now using his artwork to help others heal too.

“What Michael is going to cover up for me are my scars down here. I’m pretty excited,” said Grimes.

But these two share more than just the bond of overcoming self-harm. They found something that feels even better.

“This has been very different because it’s something I went through myself so it’s been very personal you know it is a soul touching experience to really look into someone’s eyes when they say thank you and know that they really truly mean it” he said.

Like Truitt, Grimes is also using her story and scars to counsel at-risk youth.

“Now just like this is what I do with those scars, I talk to these kids,” said Grimes. “I help them get out of it. I help them learn how to process things and cope with things better and so in hindsight I wouldn’t change any of it for anything because it’s put me in this position now.”

Truitt said, “There is no feeling in this world better than helping somebody.”

Each self-harm scar has a story but the fact that they fade should be a reminder that things do get better.

“I don’t see what I saw before so it’s pretty wonderful,” said Grimes.

If you or someone you know is dealing with self-harm, don’t be afraid to talk about it because you’re not alone.

One quick search on the internet and there are a slew of support groups and therapists right here in the Pikes Peak Region.

If you have scars and you’re interested in getting them covered up, call Pens and Needles’ Drennan location at 719-391-7367 to set up an in-person consultation.

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