by Spiritcloud


Self Injury is a really big problem/issue these days, especially among abuse victims. I didn't even know that what I did had a label until I started working with kids who did it too.

People look upon self injury with a great variety of reactions--disgust, alarm, pity, condemnation...and from a very few, understanding.

There was an episode of ER where a young woman came in because she had collapsed or something and they discovered that she "cut" or self injured herself. I think the show blew it out of proportion towards the negative, as many tend to do. Not that it's not potentially dangerous or even life threatening, but in most cases it is hardly grounds for holding someone against their will or force-tranquilizing them.

The reasons for cutting/self injuring vary as greatly as the people who do it. Understanding one case doesn't mean understanding another, let alone all cases. Some hurt themselves physically because it distracts from the worse mental anguish. Some do it because it is something they can control in a life that is chaos. Some do it to make themselves unattractive or disgusting to those who might get close and hurt them. Some do it to fit in with others who do it.

I lost count of the kids who only started injuring themselves because it seemed to be the normal thing for kids in their circumstances, or for those who were surviving.

Just as there are many reasons for self injury, there are many ways of doing it. Most common is cutting. I have also met people who scrape, burn, stab, hit, freeze, and do various other things to themselves. Many self injurers attempt to hide their injuries. Some wear long, covering clothing even in hot weather.

Another common factor of self injury is triggering. Triggering is a sight, sound, smell, etc that "triggers" the person to have a need/desire to self injure. Seeing blood is often a big trigger. Situations of intense emotion, good or bad can trigger. And countless small and large things dependent on the individual. I've seen things as simple as calling someone a "lady" trigger them to self injure.

I'm not sure why I am writing this. I guess just for increased awareness. Self injury is a problem, but it is not something that a person should be judged by. It is usually a survival mechanism. I always told the kids I work with: try to stop, but don't condemn yourself if you don't this time. Sort of like drugs or alcoholism--you're never really cured, you're just "on the wagon."

I have been mostly self injury free for about 9 years now. Sometimes there is a strong urge to hurt myself. I usually don't, but I can never drop my guard fully. If you look closely at me, you will see the scars. Call them a sign of the worse emotional scars on the inside.

Just be aware, and don't freak out if someday a self injurer needs your help. The real problem often can't be seen in a physical wound, and concentrating on that won't solve it.