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How do I help my teen girlfriend who's cutting?

answered 05:39 PM EST, Fri May 11, 2012
anonymous anonymous
My girlfriend cuts herself. Her parents are both really sick. Her dad has prostate cancer and his mom has really bad Crohn’s disease. They are older and in the hospital a lot and she is left on her own to take care of her 2 younger brothers a lot. She is 16. She would kill me if I told anyone about it. She did not want to talk about it but she says it makes her feel better when she gets to stressed about everything that is going on. I am worried about her and I want to know what I can do to help her.

Art Matthews Says...

First things first, you need to understand that this is a serious thing and some adult needs to know what's happening to her. Even though they are sick, her parents have a right to know how their illnesses might be affecting her so that they can get the help the whole family needs. I understand your desire to keep her secret and "protect" her but you can't protect her from herself. If her parents aren't informed about her behavior and what's going on inside her, they can't keep her safe. Remember that it's better to have a pissed friend than a dead friend. Even though she might not intend to do permanent damage, she might cut herself too deeply or develop an infection that could become very serious and even cause her to lose a limb or worse.

Here are some do's and don'ts from http://www.teenhelp.com/teen-health/cutting-stats-treatment.html

Don't:

  • React with anger.
  • Go into denial about the problem.
  • Assume this is a "phase" your teen will outgrow.
  • Say "What did I do wrong as a mother (father, boyfriend) for you to do this to yourself."
  • Ask "Why are you doing this to yourself?"
  • Try to hide sharp objects (It's an ineffective deterrent)

Do

  • Admit you and your child (girlfriend) need help.
  • Take the problem very seriously. This is not just attention-seeking behavior.
  • Be completely supportive.
  • Immediately seek treatment for your child.

Here are some more sites where you can get information on cutting behaviors and support for cutters:

Self-Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E.)

To Write Love On Her Arms

Self-Injury Support (SIS)

This site will have specific information for you on helping a friend who's cutting: http://kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/good_friends/friend_cuts.html

Share these resources with her and encourage her to talk to someone, but if she refuses; don't let it go and just deny there is a problem. Get some adult involved. Maybe start with your parents, a trusted clergy, a school counselor, a doctor. You both need support right now.

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Page last updated May 12, 2012

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