(Carne Tattoo/Google)

WARNING: This article contains graphic content relating to sexual assault.

Two tattoo artists who work at separate parlours in Victoria have been fired from their jobs after serious sexual assault allegations against them surfaced online.

Carne Tattoo on Johnson Street has announced that artist Dave Hadden has been fired after multiple disturbing sexual assault allegations were shared anonymously.

Similarly, Painted Lotus Studios on Gordon Street has stated that they’ve fired Corey Lyon after an allegation against him was posted on the same platform.

In both cases, stories were shared on the @victims_voices_canada account—an Instagram page that shares anonymous stories of sexual assault allegations against workers in the tattoo and piercing industry across Canada.

Both Lyon and Hadden have since removed their public social media profiles.

Dave Hadden, Carne Tattoo

In a statement on their Instagram profile shared on July 8, the owners of Carne Tattoo stated that Hadden no longer works at their parlour.

They acknowledged that they were made aware of an incident in March 2019 after a customer emailed the parlour to make sexual assault complaints against Hadden.

“At the time, we worked closely with the survivor to determine a path forward. It was our understanding that the situation had been resolved to the satisfaction of the survivor,” reads the statement from Carne Tattoo.

“In retrospect, we should have terminated this employee immediately as this disgusting behaviour has no home in our industry or our shop and our failure to immediately act upheld a system that protects aggressors and continues the cycle of victimization.”

The business goes on to add that they were not made aware of any other sexual assault complaints against Hadden until last weekend when more anonymous allegations were posted on the Victims Voices Canada Instagram page.

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Dear Clients, As many of you know, we have recently terminated Dave Hadden due to a serious and alarming allegation of sexual assault. We are deeply disturbed by this allegation, and as always, we stand in solidarity with survivors. In March of 2019, we received an email from a customer alleging that the now terminated member of our staff had sexually assaulted her while working on her tattoo. At the time, we worked closely with the survivor to determine a path forward. It was our understanding that the situation had been resolved to the satisfaction of the survivor. In retrospect, we should have terminated this employee immediately as this disgusting behaviour has no home in our industry or our shop and our failure to immediately act upheld a system that protects aggressors and continues the cycle of victimization. This situation and the decisions that followed were made by the shop’s management. Our other artists were not aware of the situation that occurred. Up until this past weekend, we were not aware of any similar incidents perpetrated by this member of our staff; however, it is now clear that this employee’s actions were not a one-off, but rather a piece of a disturbing pattern. When we were made aware of other alleged assaults on social media, we moved quickly to terminate the employment of the artist. We have always put the safety of our clients first and we are extremely troubled that these actions could have taken place at our shop. In response, we have begun to implement new hiring policies, changed our internal practices, and scheduled our staff to participate in Safer Spaces Training, which will be mandatory going forward. These new measures will help us work to ensure that this does not happen in our shop again. We will continue to offer support to the survivors of these appalling actions, and we encourage any other survivors to come forward with their stories. We also remain committed to cooperating with the appropriate authorities. If you have any other concerns, please contact us or the authorities directly.

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While this is not confirmed, the initial complaint against Hadden corresponds with a comment on another allegation against him.

This complainant states that Hadden performed non-consensual “digital sex” on the woman by slipping his fingers under her underwear, and spent about half of a four or five hour tattoo session “with his fingers inside” her.

Over the past weekend, two more allegations against Hadden surfaced on the social media page. In one of them, the survivor states that he grabbed her chest multiple times and, while working on a tattoo on her thigh, had his free hand placed on her vagina.

The last allegation that was posted on Thursday afternoon shares a story that is almost exactly the same as the first one.

The woman says she was getting a tattoo that extended down to the front of her hip, to an area that is covered by underwear.

“Near the end of the tattoo while working on the part that’s usually covered by underwear or bathing suits he managed to slip his fingers under my underwear (which at the time I thought was accidental) and was maneuvering them within the lips of my vagina,” reads the post.

“I had a friend with me who noticed and we talked afterwards about how that was a little off but I never chalked it up to anything until I read the first story shared by a survivor.”

The post goes on to thank others for speaking out about their experiences which allowed her to “admit to being assaulted instead of normalizing” the incident.

Corey Lyon, Painted Lotus Studios

In a statement posted on July 7, Painted Lotus Studios announced the termination of their employee, Corey Lyon, after a disturbing sexual assault allegation surfaced against him earlier this week.

The story was posted on the same Victims Voices Canada page on Sunday, and alleged that Lyon performed non-consensual “aggressive” oral sex on the customer while doing her under bust tattoo.

“I enquired about an underbust [tattoo] while there after hours (we knew each other outside the shop a bit, too) he asked me to pull my shirt up and eventually to lift my bra up, exposing my breasts,” reads the post.

“I honestly thought it was necessary, maybe for the tattoo placement to look right (I was a lot younger). I didn’t clue into it being not needed until he said ‘hmm the lighting is bad’ and physically picked me up and put me on his table beside his light.”

“That’s when the little lightbulb in my head went on and I realized this was sexual. This was close to another particularly traumatizing sexual assault experience, so I froze up and allowed everything else that happened to happen including aggressive oral sex.”

The survivor of the assault goes on to state that after the incident, she texted Lyon and arranged to meet up in order to tell him how she felt about the incident and talk about “the power dynamic that he abused”, but Lyon never showed up at the agreed upon time and place.

After the post was shared, multiple people tagged Painted Lotus Studios demanding an appropriate response.

Two days later, the business shared the news that Lyon is no longer employed by them.

“As a female-owned and predominantly female employed shop, we take this subject VERY seriously. As survivors and friends of survivors ourselves, this has been difficult and triggering processing our emotions,” reads the post from Painted Lotus.

“To the poster: We truly understand how hard it is to speak up about these issues, and if healing is possible we would be grateful to assist in yours however we can, anonymously if that’s your preference.”

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At Painted Lotus we have worked hard to promote a safe space for all our clients. Our trust and the trust of our clients was broken, and we deeply regret this. We failed to keep you safe. We are in shock. We hope for everyone’s sake that this was an isolated incident, but cannot in good conscience stand by Corey’s actions. He is no longer employed at Painted Lotus. We are grateful for, and stand by the work that @victims_voices_canada does giving a platform for victims to be heard. This is an industry with a long history of toxic behaviour that has been swept under the rug. We want to support survivors and prevent abuse wherever possible. As a female-owned and predominantly female employed shop, we take this subject VERY seriously. As survivors and friends of survivors ourselves, this has been difficult and triggering processing our emotions. We thank you for your patience in allowing us time to address this in a way we hope will promote healing and growth. We wish to proceed as a business that protects and empowers its clients. If we have failed you, we are so sorry. We will be making changes to our policies to address the ways in which client safety was not upheld to the standards we strive for. We welcome your voices in how we can do better. To the poster: We truly understand how hard it is to speak up about these issues, and if healing is possible we would be grateful to assist in yours however we can, anonymously if that’s your preference.

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Since its creation just five days ago, the Instagram page Victims Voices Canada has shared dozens of anonymous accounts of sexual assault against workers in the tattoo and piercing industry across Canada.

Their mission statement says the purpose of the page is to “give voice to survivors of sexual assault and harassment” in the industry and “shine a light into the dark recesses of our community” to create positive change.