Walmart shopper says her hand tattoos 'literally saved' her life

@kelleyannwilliams/TikTok kevin brine/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

‘Sold. Getting the hand tattoo’: Walmart shopper says her hand tattoos ‘literally saved’ her life

'This is a clear sign that I need another tattoo immediately.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Apr 15, 2024   Updated on Apr 15, 2024, 11:48 am CDT

A Walmart shopper is convinced that her hand tattoos prevented her from being kidnapped, as body art is generally considered an identifier that can help police recover missing persons.

Kelley Ann Williams (@kelleyannwilliams) said in a viral TikTok video that when she was shopping in the cosmetics section at a Walmart in Tennessee, a man accosted her.

“I think my hand tattoos literally just saved my life. I was in Walmart Spring Hill, Tennessee, … picking up them travel cosmetics, and some man speaking a different language walked up to me, got really close to me, and went like this, trying to get me to like smell his coat or something,” she said, pulling the lapel of the jacket she was wearing forward to demonstrate what the man was attempting to do.

“I’ve heard people do that to like drug you and take you. And as soon as he walked up to me, my heart started pounding, but I went like this and said no thank you,” the TikToker explained, holding up her hands, which are decorated with black ink tattoos.

She said his demeanor changed when he noticed the tattoos on her hands. “He saw my tattoos and, like, booked out of there,” she said. “I’ve heard that they won’t take people with tattoos because you’re identifiable but, yeah, be safe and be aware and maybe get a hand tattoo.”


Thank God for tattoos, yall be safe out there

♬ original sound – Kelley Ann Williams

William’s video was viewed 2.8 million times. Folks who saw it had a variety of different responses to her post. “I was a missing person for 3 months and it was my hand tats that identified me. I went in a restaurant and the girl working there had seen my flyers and called. I went home with family that night,” one viewer said.

Another TikTok user said that they were told by a police officer friend that hand tattoos are indeed helpful in potentially preventing kidnapping situations.

One individual joked that they’re going to send Williams’ TikTok to one of their parents to help make them feel a bit better about the fact that her hands are inked up. “Gonna send this to my mom so she stops being disappointed in me,” one quipped, with another saying, “Got a hand tattoo last month, maybe this is enough validation for my parents.”

Others viewed Williams’ video as a sign that they should simply get some more ink. “I see this is a clear sign that I need another tattoo immediately,” another wrote.

A true crime expert wrote in a Medium blog post that there are indeed people who subscribe to the belief that having tattoos may make you less likely to be abducted by a human trafficker; however, there isn’t necessarily any data or evidence to support this claim. “While this may be true, this is largely an unfounded claim,” blogger Dani Hendrix explained. “Tattoos look cool, but they may not actually stop you from being trafficked.”

Furthermore, some kidnapping victims are actually forced into getting tattoos. The same topic of conversation popped up on the r/nostupidquestions subreddit after someone asked if tattoos help prevent folks from getting human-trafficked.

In response, one redditor said that “some victims are actually tattooed with certain designs to advertise that they are available for sex work.”

This is true. NPR reported on this phenomenon, stating that many tattoo artists are collaborating with law enforcement so that in the event someone walks into their shop to get inked in a specific way, they know which designs to look out for.

Many Reddit commenters agreed that while a tattoo might not deter a kidnapper, they could help in identifying people who have been kidnapped.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Williams via Instagram direct message for further comment.

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*First Published: Apr 15, 2024, 4:00 pm CDT