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Victoria police respond to social media posts alleging sexual assault at tattoo parlour

Last Updated Jul 10, 2020 at 7:56 pm PST

FILE - Victoria Police badge. (CityNews)

Social media reports about sexual abuse involving at tattoo artist on Vancouver Island have prompted a public alert

Victoria Police are asking possible victims to reach out to their Special Victims Unit

No suspect has been named, but this notice came out the same week someone who works at a local tattoo parlour was fired

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Police in Victoria are asking possible victims of sexual abuse involving a local tattoo artist to contact their Special Victims Unit.

No charges have been recommended, but Carne Tattoo posted a message online Monday confirming an artist was let go for his “betrayal of young women” and references an incident dating back to 2019.

Other social media posts indicate the alleged abuse was initially reported in 2019.

After seeing reports on social media, Victoria Police ask anyone who might have experienced “sexualized violence” during tattoo appointments to get in touch.

“We want everyone in those threads who have experienced sexualized violence to know that if you report what you’ve experienced to our Special Victims Unit detectives, you will be listened to, you will be treated with respect, and you will be believed,” reads a statement from police.

The Instagram account of a man identified as the artist has been taken down.

Police want victims to call the non-emergency line at 250-995-7654 and select extension 1 for the report desk. Or, reach out to the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre at 250-383-3232, if they aren’t sure about getting in touch with police.

Warning against social media posts could ‘mute’ survivor voices: advocate

The statement from Victoria police has a paragraph, later repeated in a tweet, warning against social media posts that one advocate is calling “peculiar”

Angela Marie MacDougall with Battered Women’s Support Services says the statement fails to account for the fact that many survivors take to social media precisely because they are wary of the criminal justice system.

“Investigations tend not to result in charges and certainly don’t often result in — in a criminal justice sense — a remedy,” she explains.

“”Many victims choose not to pursue the criminal legal system because of how ineffective it is. We are nowhere near seeing the criminal system being effective in terms of responding to sexualized violence. Quite frankly, social media has been quite effective in drawing attention to how ineffective policing has been and continues to be, as well as other areas of the criminal, legal system.”

MacDougall worries a statement like this could have a chilling effect on victims sharing their experiences, and connecting with other women who have had similar experiences.

“I’m quite frankly concerned, actually, if this is going to be the way law enforcement is going to respond to survivors as they’re raising their experiences, if they’re going to try to mute the voices of survivors want to use what has been an effective tool,” she says.

“Raising their voices in a public realm can often be a very empowering and useful part of a survivors experience.”

Editor’s note: The screenshots in this article have been edited to hide the name of the tattoo artist because he has not been charged.