A DEFIANT mum-of-seven says she has covered her body with more than 400 tattoos to blot out years of harrowing sex abuse at the hands of her half-brother.
Melissa Sloan, 45, is plastered from head to toe in colourful ink and adds markings to her skin at home using a portable £120 gun.
But behind the scores of tattoos lies a chilling story of abuse she claims she endured from paedophile Gavin Sloan, 46.
The warped predator was last month jailed for 21 years for rape and sexually assault offences against children.
Now Melissa, from Knighton, Wales, has told how she also suffered abuse while growing up – and turned to tattoos as a therapy to cope with the trauma.
She said: "People stop and stare at me and think I’m an oddball but they haven’t got a clue about what I’ve been through.
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"I get looks at the school gates and I’ve been called ‘Crayola’ but it doesn’t bother me at all.
"I learned a long time ago that it doesn’t matter what people think. I’ve learned how to be strong.”
Melissa said she first turned to tattoos in her 20s.
She has amassed hundreds across her face and body, including England flags, love hearts and an image of the notorious Kray twins.
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While she has had some professionally, the inkings are now etched on by her partner Luke, 56, using a portable gun bought from Amazon.
And she even lets two of her primary school-age children have a go at tattooing her back.
Melissa said: "I call it my ‘fix’. Whenever I get the urge, I’ll get a tattoo. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve got.
"One day I could be sat on the sofa bored and I’ll think ‘let’s go and have a fix’.
"The portable kit is great because I can take it with me. In the garden, in the car, on the bus – wherever.
"I just love the buzz. It makes me feel alive."
She added: "There’s loads of room left so I’m going to keep going until my body is covered.
"People stop and stare in the supermarket but you just get used to it.
"I guess you have to have some guts to do it but you only live once."
I call it my ‘fix’. Whenever I get the urge, I’ll get a tattoo.
Melissa claims she was abused from the age of six by Sloan, who was three years her elder, until she was in her 30s.
"When I was child, he would touch me," she said.
"In my teens it got worse. He would grope me and try and get me to perform sex acts on him.
"I tried to fight him off but he was older and stronger than me. I was scared of him and what he was capable of.
"I felt there wasn’t a lot that I could do."
Melissa, who fled home aged 16, summoned the courage to report the abuse to police in 2012 after Sloan tried to weave his way back into her life and allegedly made sick sexual demands.
But the stay-at-home mum's case was dropped when she decided not to pursue the allegation.
'HE'S AN ABSOLUTE MONSTER'
Cops revisited Melissa nine years later when probing Sloan over other child sex crimes.
She said: "It sent a chill up my spine when I learned they were investigating him over other sex offences.
"He’s evil – I call him Jimmy Savile. He’s an absolute monster."
Sloan, of Minsterley, Shropshire, was jailed for 21 years after admitting the rape of a child, possessing indecent images of children and sexual assaults against children.
After he was locked up at Shrewsbury Crown Court in May, West Mercia Police described the grim case as "harrowing".
Two female accomplices were also sentenced for their part in his sick crimes.
He’s wrecked my life and he’s wrecked other lives.
Melissa said: "I want to get it out there what he’s done to me. He’s an evil b*****d.
"I still get upset now. It never goes away. It’s like I can’t shake it off.
"He’s wrecked my life and he’s wrecked other lives.
"I want other victims of sexual abuse to know that they can come forward."
Melissa and Sloan grew up in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, with their mother, Doris, and two other siblings.
She said her mum died in 2020 aged 75 without knowing of her son’s heinous crimes, but she gave her blessing to Melissa to shroud her body in tattoos.
Melissa, who was nicknamed ‘Missy’ by her mum, said: "She never once judged me.
"She said I should do what I want to do. It’s made me more determined, if anything. She’s my inspiration."
A spokesperson for West Mercia Police said: "We can confirm that we received a report of child sexual abuse and at the time extensive efforts were made to investigate the report."
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Detective Inspector Jo Delahay added: "It takes great courage to come forward and report offences such as this and we recognise that the court system is not always a route a victim wishes to pursue at the time.
"We have specially trained officers who work with victims and ensure they have the support they need."
HOW YOU CAN GET HELP
Whenever it happened to you, it’s never too late to get support.
If you’ve ever experienced sexual violence or sexual abuse, you can get confidential support from specialists who will listen to you, believe you and understand how hard it is to talk about.
As a victim, you’re entitled to support whether you report the crime or not.
Your rights are set out in full in the Victims’ Code.
Visit gov.uk/sexualabusesupport to see the support on offer.
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