Self-abusive-behaviors? Sounds strange doesn’t it? One of the questions that has crossed my mind lately is why people hurt themselves after someone else has abused them. Self injuries and dangerous behaviors including sucidal thoughts are common among abuse survivors due to underlying feelings related to the abuse.
If you are reading this you probably are either researching this topic to understand it, or are a parent or loved one of someone who is acting out Self-abusive-behaviors or dangerous behaviors and you want to understand it or you are the one who was abused and do this yourself and you want to know why you are doing it.
Self-abusive-behaviors come in three categories: self mutilating or “cutting”, self destructive relationships and alcohol / drug / food abuse or addictions.
The first self mutilation or cutting is often judged strongly by those who don’t do it, and have no way to understand it.
People often question” Why would you do this to yourself?”
When one is sexually abused, it often leaves one feeling powerless. Now, just imagine what it feels like to think you are powerless.
A coping mechanism to abuse is dissociation. That is a method of mentally “checking out” or “spacing out” as some people call it.
The experience is so traumatic that the person can not handle it so the brain shuts down and the person actually mentally leaves the situation in a way.
The brain is really amazing. Sometimes people can forget their abuse all together because of this coping mechanism., at least on the surface. Subconsciously the abuse is still there in the memory.
There are many levels of shutting down emotionally. People who cut on themselves have shared with me that emotionally, they could not feel the pain from the abuse.
They felt “numb”. By cutting on themselves, and seeing the actual action of cutting and seeing the blood from the cut, it was a physical release of pain from inside.
Just the image of the cutting and the blood makes the pain “real” because you can at least “see” it. Many people have told me that they get a sense of “relief” after they cut on themselves..but only for a short time. This is an extremely dangerous Self-destructive-behavior.
If you do not do this, it probably sounds pretty strange.
If you cut on yourself, then you might feel you understand. I have also had people share with me that instead of actually cutting themselves they burn their hands with hot candle wax or push safety pins through their fingertips or skin.
People who do this also seem to feel that they have this under control, and it also is about a sense of CONTROL. This seems to provide a sense of control when one feels their power and control were taken away by the abuse. But remember, it is a FALSE SENSE OF CONTROL.
There is often a urge to control any part of life that can be controlled, such as the amount of food eaten, the amount of exercise, and controlling those around you.
There are other, healthy ways of having control..or choices.
Hurting yourself can also fall in the category of self neglect. Not taking care of your body and self by denying yourself medical care, taking care of others rather than doing self care and denying yourself from love from people around you that care.
This Self-abusive-behavior is very dangerous, please seek professional help if you are doing it or if you know someone that is engaging in it. THERE IS NO CONTROLLED CUTTING!! Your life is worth the effort it takes to find someone to listen.
Next DANGEROUS RELATIONSHIPS:
Many women, especially, cycle through bad relationships with men (or women) who continue to emotionally,physically or sexually abuse them. This can also be friends that you hang out with!This is the most common behavior I see.
After being abused, especially as a young child, one is often left with no self esteem and no sense of what a healthy relationship looked like for yourself. It seems as if your power was taken away from you. It may be hard to believe, but it wasn’t taken. No one can take our power, unless we give it away. So, yes often sexual abuse happens, even to children. But, no one can take one’s dignity away. Even if one is sexually abused they are still a bright, powerful light in this universe, but only the person can make the choice to shine.
The logical mind, family, friends, church, all the people one might know will say “you deserve a healthy relationship”, but unless the sexual abuse is addressed and released, that little abused girl inside of you says to you that you are not good enough or pretty enough to deserve a healthy relationship.
That little damaged child inside of you is who you are going to listen to until she is healed. I believe that to be true, because it was true for me and for so many women that I have talked with on this journey.
Being in dramatic, scary relationships is also an addiction and keeps one from focusing on the sexual abuse. Abuse victims, will sometimes do anything to avoid dealing with the pain…even create more pain. Often people begin therapy to address the issues and something else will occur in life to stop the person from focusing on their healing. Please try to see this with compassion, this is not a situation that warrants judgment… rather love and compassion.
It is about loving yourself and giving yourself respect, love and power.
Through recovery, you can receive those things. You CAN HEAL.
Sounds scary huh?
I must say that living alone with yourself is far better than living in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. Hey, you might even find out that you are a pretty good roommate! I did just that! I lived alone after I moved left my abusive relationship and realize how living alone is much better than living with someone and still being lonely.
ABUSE or ADDICTION to DRUGS or ALCOHOL or FOOD(or any other THING)
People sometimes turn to chemicals or things to alter their moods in order to numb their feelings.
Looking back at my battle with food addiction, I was eating to numb my pain. Rather than face the issues that were deep inside, I stuffed myself with food and buried the pain even deeper under layers of adipose armor.
It is usually the same issues again. Anything to avoid dealing with the painful feelings related to the sexual abuse. Again, this can and will create more pain in the long run.
It works pretty well, for awhile..until one run out of money, or the drugs,food and alcohol become a problem in and of itself!
One can stop self-abusive-behaviors, but only the person doing it can make the choice to stop it.
Take a moment and think about the little child inside of you who is damaged and hurt.
You are older now. The adult you is yearning for life and love.
Do you want to take care of the inner child?
Do you think the child deserves a chance to heal?
Do you think the child deserves a chance to be happy?
Make the choice to step out of the dark and into the light.
It may hurt your eyes at first..but then it will feel like a big warm embrace.
Let’s break the cycle of self abuse.