It was a very long time ago. I was probably twelve years old when we moved to Chicago from Indiana. I was scared to attend a new school, but on my first day I met a girl named Tami. We became instant best friends, and like all best friends, we spent a lot of time together.
One day, I remember asking her about all those scratches and small cuts on her arms. She always laughed it off, pulled her long sleeve over her arm and blamed it on her cat’s playful claws. Some time later, I was invited to her house for a sleepover and realized she didn’t have a cat. Her scratches never disappeared. I was puzzled, but I never questioned her about it again. It wasn’t until many years later as I reminisced and thought about it that I realized she was cutting herself.
Cutting is a form of intentional self injury that includes scratching or cutting the skin using items such as razor blades, knifes, or any sharp instrument to alleviate suffering. It is estimated that one out of eight girls engage in some form of self-injury.
Explanations for why these girls cut include the feeling of control and a distraction from personal pain. However, it’s important to remember that each teen is different and may cut for different reasons. If you are cutting, it’s important to seek professional help. Professional counselors can help you identify the troubled areas in your life that cause you to cut.
Here are a few risk factors.
- Most cutters do not have a healthy way of dealing with stress or emotional pain. They would rather feel the physical pain from cutting instead of dealing with their emotional distress. Have you lost a friend or family member? Do you have a low body image or low self-esteem? Do you have difficulty in expressing your feelings?
- Wearing long sleeves even in warm weather?
- Wearing thick wristbands that hide her marks?
- Unexplained marks or scars on her body?
- Spending long periods of time alone or withdrawing from others?
This is a difficult issue to handle, but Jesus says – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NIV
Seek Him as you begin to receive help. Pray for God’s wisdom and direction.