Five years ago Alyssa Zebrasky, 31, got a ‘Day of the Dead’ tattoo on her face while in a ‘toxic’ relationship with her ex-partner.
Five years ago Alyssa Zebrasky, 31, got a ‘Day of the Dead’ tattoo on her face while in a ‘toxic’ relationship (Picture: Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office)
Alyssa, from Cleveland in Ohio, said: ‘We [my ex and I] were having a conversation one day and he said “you should get your face tattooed”.
‘Initially I said no and then he just kept talking about it. [Now I believe it was] so nobody else would want me.
‘He picked it [the tattoo design] out. It was a Day of the Dead sugar skull, it was my whole face.
‘He was covered from the top of his head to his feet [in tattoos], I’m guessing he wanted us to match.’
She ended up in police custody three times in six months – resulting in her unusual mugshot going viral.
Once the couple even ended up in a short police chase, which they blamed on him ‘needing the bathroom’.
Her mugshot went viral due to her distinctive tattoos (Picture: Mega)
But Alyssa has now turned her life around and is focused on getting rid of the tattoos for good (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
But now, after ending the relationship and going through rehab, Alyssa has turned her life around.
‘Looking back at those pictures, I just feel disappointed in myself,’ she said.
‘But I have to remember that I hadn’t worked on myself or tried to learn how to love myself like I have now.
‘So then I feel proud because change is possible and healing and learning new things are possible. I like being able to look back and see my personal growth.’
The heavy machinery worker now covers the tattoos with heavy foundation and is using the charitable programme ‘INK-nitiative’, in Austin, Texas, to remove them for good.
She is documenting her experience on social media with the support of her family and new partner, who she is in ‘the healthiest relationship’ with.
Alyssa has tattoos all over her body – but only wants to remove the face ones to forget the connection with her ex-partner.
Alyssa pictured before getting her face tattoos (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
‘I’d been dragged on social media, everybody was saying really, really mean things about me and I didn’t even get a chance to say my side of the story,’ she said.
‘In that six-month romance, it was a whirlwind which suddenly became darker. While I was in jail… he maybe visited me twice.
‘I have to think about that every time I look in the mirror. I started healing mentally from all the stuff I went through with him.
‘I went through a drug court programme and I went to rehab and I changed. Now, every time I look in the mirror I’m reminded of what I went through.’
When she started the removal process in October 2019 she was told she would need 12 sessions.
‘When I first started going they did my cheeks, forehead, and hands because like a tattoo your body can only heal so much at once,’ Alyssa said.
She said after a laser removal session her face is sore for around half an hour (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
‘Now the cheeks are gone but we haven’t started around the mouth yet.
‘The cheeks were fairly painless, but I have got my nose done once and the nose hurts pretty bad.
‘Each session is 20 minutes, the sitting session is way faster than a tattoo itself.
‘The initial pain from the laser I would relate to having a rubber band snapping against your skin, that’s what the laser feels like and then like afterwards it’s sore for 30 minutes.
‘It welts up afterwards and there’s some pain almost like if you spilt oil from the stove on your hand, that’s the closest I can compare to what it feels like on my hands.
‘On my face, it doesn’t so much burn but [there’s] swelling.’
She said she has now ‘accepted’ her face and wants others to learn from her experiences.
Alyssa said: ‘I used to cover them up when I’d go visit my family.
‘My mum told me I don’t need to cover them anymore which was nice.
‘[My family] have been supportive through the whole thing, they understand I was in a vulnerable place.
‘As much hate as I do get on TikTok and social media, I don’t really pay attention to it.
‘I could be helping someone in a similar situation, it could be drug addiction or they went through something really traumatising and they want to see somebody else who got through it.’