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National Self-Injury Awareness Day

March 1st is National Self-Injury Awareness Day in several countries including the USA, England and Australia.

Here are some notes and links, but first I would like to introduce Carissa, who has come to Montenegro to volunteer her help..


Letter from reader about emotionally abusive parents and self-harm

What parents should do if their teen is self-harming according to www.focusas.com/

Parents must listen to their child (teen) and acknowledge their child's (teen's) feelings. In other words, parents should validate feelings...

What is not said is the reverse of this. In other words, one of the main reasons teens self-harm is because their parents do not listen to, acknowledge and validate their feelings.


Here is another quote from the same site:

One factor common to most people who self-injure, whether they were abused or not, is invalidation.  They were taught at any early age that their interpretations of and feelings about the things around them were bad and wrong.  They learned that certain feelings weren't allowed.  In abusive homes, they may have been severely punished for expressing certain thoughts and feelings.  At the same time, they had no good role models for coping.  You can't learn to cope effectively with distress unless you grow up around people who are coping effectively with distress. 

The site then says

Although a history of abuse is common about self-injurers, not everyone who self-injures was abused.  Sometimes invalidation and lack of role models for coping are enough....

But constant or frequent invalidation *is* abuse. It is psychological and emotional abuse, so it is more accurate to say that everyone who self-injures has been abused in one way or another. If someone receives the emotional support they need and are free to express all their feelings, they will never achieve a high enough level of emotional pain to cause them to self-injure. It is only without emotional support in the form of validation, acceptance and understanding that such high levels of pain build up over the years.

More links