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  1. #1
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    Help - a cousin of mine cuts herself

    My 16-year old cousin opened up to me today and told me that she's been cutting herself since she was 12. Her dad is total jerk and she has a crappy relationship with him. She's also been dealing with some problems at school. She's one of my closest friends and I'm very worried about her. What can I do to help?

  2. #2
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    Don't freak out. This is extremely common, and most people hide it really well. It isn't done for attention, it's a stress reliever- diverts the internal pain. It doesn't mean they want to injure themselves, or are suicidal. It does mean that she has a lot of difficulty dealing with emotional pain, and she needs therapy to deal with her problems.

    There is a lot of information on the subject on the internet.

    It's very very difficult to be the supporting person trying to help someone with this problem.
    ‎"You emerge victorious from the maze you've been travelling in." Oct 21,2012- Best Fortune Cookie Ever!

  3. #3

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    I'm sorry, MikiAndoFan#1. That's rough. I hope and pray you can encourage her to get to a good counselor.
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club
    Old, lonely, pathos-hungry, and extremely gullible

  4. #4

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    went through same thing with family member, let your cousin know you are there for her but encourage her to speak to a therapist ,social worker or school guidance counselor. Let her know they are there to help, not judge her.

  5. #5

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    I am glad your cousin has told you. That is a probably a big step for her. Hope you can guide her into counselling.

    Have a look at Jenny Kirk's blog. She wrote quite candidly about the issue of self-harm.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  6. #6
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    (((MikiAndoFan))) Just being supportive and non-judgemental is huge. If she hasn't already looked into professional help I'd also encourage her to find some.

    For her to open up to you about this speaks volumes of how much she trusts you. You don't have to have all the answers just be there for her unconditionally and if you can, help guide her to some good help.
    "Beautiful things don't ask for attention." -The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

  7. #7
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    So sorry to hear this news about your cousin. Please encourage her to get professional help. Continue to be there for her.

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    I agree with everyone here. Please encourage her to get professional help. Hopefully, her father will not roadblock her (since you say she has a poor relationship with him). I agree with rjblue, that this doesn't necessarily mean that she intends to do herself serious harm. However, if not treated, these kinds of disorders can become worse and she can develop more self destructive behaviors. Another concern is infection. While she may not be cutting deep enough to cause real damage, any open wound can become infected (especially consider that her cutting tool, of choice, may not be sterile). She can be causing cuts that leave permanent scarring. And, she could possibly cut in the wrong place, with more pressure than intended, and accidentally seriously harm herself. It is really important that she get help, ASAP.

    (((for you and your cousin)))

  9. #9
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    Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it. It's such a scary situation. I had no idea she was doing this to herself. I will follow your advice and talk to her about therapy.

  10. #10
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    (((MikiAndoFan))) ITA with what others have posted in this thread. I can tell you love your cousin very much. Let her know that you're there for her, and encourage her to get professional help.
    Angie
    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~ Thomas A. Edison

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    That she trusts you with this speaks volumes about you.
    (((((hugs)))))

    Encourage her to get professional help.
    Let her know that you love and support her; and will continue to do so.

  12. #12

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    Last night on a current affairs program on Australian TV there was a story about this exact same issue. I hope people will be able to watch it as it could be blocked but there is a transcript of it underneath the video. The girl in it was very brave as she does show her injuries and what she has done to herself which is quite horrific. And I think really drives home what a serious problem this is.

    http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3554593.htm

    At the end there is a link to a study on the topic as well.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  13. #13

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    I would add that if your cousin doesn't get help and soon, you should tell a trusted adult about this - her mother, her minister or guidance counsellor. This is not something you should be trying to deal with on your own. Don't blindside her or go behind her back. Tell her if she doesn't get help, you will tell her mother about this. You are not breaking her trust, you are helping her overcome behaviour that is out of control.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonlady View Post
    I would add that if your cousin doesn't get help and soon, you should tell a trusted adult about this - her mother, her minister or guidance counsellor. This is not something you should be trying to deal with on your own. Don't blindside her or go behind her back. Tell her if she doesn't get help, you will tell her mother about this. You are not breaking her trust, you are helping her overcome behaviour that is out of control.
    Good advice.

  15. #15

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    I went through this when my daughter was 15. Scary as hell, and I have a scar on my heart for every cut on her body. She refused counselling or authority figure help of any kind, and so we had to resort to some tough love tactics. I continued to tell her I loved her no matter what, even though I hated the behavior, and continously encouraged her to focus on all the blessings and positives she had going for her, and tried to get her to find more healthy outlets to express her anger stress and pain. Eventually she overcame her cutting on her own, but I know that most people will need the help of a professional counsellor.
    Keep on loving your cousin, show her you will never, ever, give up on her, and really stress the need for professional help.

  16. #16

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    And be prepared for a long journey. My daughter took us on a 3 year roller coaster ride. I have a niece who had self-injury issues as well, along with OCD, and it took 8 years before it was under control.
    My daughter is now studying for a Bachelor degree in nursing, and working at a nursing home. My niece is a social worker specializing in teen behavioral issues and has adopted 2 special needs children. They are fabulous young women, and my heroes.
    With support and love, you can help your cousin to achieve a great life and be an inspiration to others.

  17. #17

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    Usually the best way to solve this issue is to address the stress she is trying to get relief from. In my area, there are support groups for teens/ young adults who are going through this.

    The counsellors eventually get the kids to start looking at substituting this behaviour with some kind of artistic outlet. (It could be art, music, writing, etc) They have pretty good success with it.

    Like it was pointed out above, it is a long road with a lot of relapses along the way.
    ~I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.~ (Charles R. Swindoll)

  18. #18
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    I'm so sorry to hear about your cousin and the situation with her father. I'm so glad she opened up to you. That is a very important first step toward recovery. Many cutters keep the practice hidden and would never dream of opening up to anyone. It's obvious she trusts you dearly and wants help. Those are two things that should help her greatly on her road to recovery.
    For the record, my sister was a cutter for over 20 years of her life. I had no idea, none of us did, because she did such a great job of hiding her wounds from everyone. Eventually though she got help and even wrote a book about her struggle and recovery. She even won a literary award for her work. Let me know if you'd like the link to the book and I will post it.
    Good luck to your cousin and you.

  19. #19
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    From my memories, I totally agree with rjblue:

    It isn't done for attention, it's a stress reliever- diverts the internal pain. It doesn't mean they want to injure themselves, or are suicidal.
    I went through this period during my divorce - I was soo angry.....
    Therapy helps! A good connection with a therapist is so important. Be honored she revealed this to you, and accept her with unconditional love.


  20. #20
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    I do not mean to sound XXXX, but have you seen these scars? Are they for real or is she just trying to cry for attention. I know exactly cutting and stabbing and all that. But there is a total difference between someone who WANTS to do that and IS doing it. I'd demand to see the marks and scars.

    Start with that first. She might just be a drama queen crying out for help. Look under the armpits. No one who cuts goes right to their hands or forearms. I think you should investigate first. She's probably just crying for help.
    I will not be ignored! -Me

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