My 13 year old is cutting herself

Mindy - posted on 01/17/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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I just found out from our roommate that my 13 year old step-daughter is cutting herself. The roommate is an old family friend who lives in our basement. My daughter has latched on to him over the last couple of years, confiding in him about things she doesn't want to discuss with myself or her father (or even her mom). My husband has primary custody and her mom lives a couple of hours away. They see each other about one weekend a month. That is her mother's choice. So the kid has had a messed up life. But I've been in the picture for 7 years. I've been her mom for the last 6 years. Not only is she cutting herself, but she's also using erasers to create burns on her skin. We have cats, and any time I've seen scratches on her arms, I just assumed it was from the cats. My roommate has informed me otherwise today. We also recently discovered while she is at her mom's, sometimes her mom goes to work, leaving the 13 year old alone. Because of that, she has befriended gang members. She says she's not in the gang, and since she doesn't live there, I'm not sure how she can be part of it. She is just a mess. Meanwhile, my husband doesn't want to be too hard on her because he's afraid she'll take off or become completely uncontrollable. I think we need to get tough and make her accountable for her actions. I'm just so frustrated and scared. My husband was out of control as a teen, and I don't know how to handle this sort of behavior. I also have a 4 year old son, and I don't want her to negatively influence him. And advice for this wicked step-mother of a 13 year old girl?

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Angie - posted on 01/19/2011

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I was a cutter. If you get her help, you son will not be influenced by anything but the fact that if one is hurting their loved ones will help. This is not a "behavior" it is a cry for help that her father and her mother need to address.

Denna - posted on 01/19/2011

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I have a 15 year old daughter that is also a cutter. Getting tough with your step-daughter will make things worse. I put my daughter in counseling when I found out about her cutting and it did help but she does relapse when she is extremely stressed or really upset. What i have learned about kids who cut is that there are 2 type of cutters. The ones who do it for attention (they don't try to hide the cut marks) and the ones who do it to stop what they are feeling at the moment (they will hide the cut marks from everyone). My daughter wore long sleeves in the summer when she first started cutting. She recently had a relapse and I walked in her room when she was changing one day and she had fresh cut marks on her upper thighs. No matter what the reason is for your step-daughters cutting, it is a cry for help, you need to get her in counseling and fast before cutting isn't doing it for her anymore and she gets into something worse. I hope this helps you and good luck!!

Louise - posted on 01/18/2011

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If your step daughter is definitely harming herself then you need to bring in professional help and fast. This can progress very quickly and become dangerous. You need to seek help not only for her but for your other child as he is at an impressionable age. At 13 life is hard for a young girl she is neither child nor woman and major changes are going on. Ask at her school to see if there is any changes that have been spotted by her teachers. You need the full picture here so sit her down without any distractions and just ask her out right what is going on in her life and that you are worrid about her. You might be lucky and get her to open up to you, or she will deny it. If she denies it then ask to see her arms. Be quite clear with her that you want to help. You are not being the wicked step mother you are doing what her mother should of done to protect her daughter.

Jane - posted on 01/18/2011

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Cutting herself may not be "acting out" but a cry for help. She may be very upset about the situation with her Mom and doesn't know how to handle it. Cutting herself may be out of depression or fear. My son's friend did that and they got her professional help since it is not normal. Good luck.

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Candi - posted on 04/15/2011

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Oh my goodness. Don't think of yourself as a wicked stepmother or of her as an out-of-control teen. She's trying to find some way to control her life and to feel like she belongs somewhere. Many cutters say that they began cutting because they were so dead to the world (i.e., they're depressed so badly that they feel nothing), they cut themselves just to feel something. Get her help! Get tough about making her see a therapist. Don't get tough in a way that will make her see herself as a bad kid, I'm begging you! Seriously, this is a kid who needs the help of trained professionals before she goes further. Obviously you care very deeply and you're a good step mom because you're trying to find options! Stop letting her go to her moms so that she can't hang out with the gang, and instead use that time to help her find some activities with people who can be positive influences. And get her help before she goes further into suicidal ideation. :o( *hugs* You can do it! You're an awesome step-mom! Hang in there.

Natalia - posted on 03/02/2011

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I totally agree with Jane .....You should seek professional help for her and the rest of the family so y'all can understand what she going through, and to show her that you are all there supporting her.

Lisa - posted on 03/02/2011

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That's a tough one. My daughter (15) experimented with cutting/hurting herself a couple years ago. She was very depressed and was doing independent study because she hated the high school she just started. In my case, I tried to talk to her about why she was feeling so low and sad. Thru talking, arguing, her running away, a lecture from a police officer about if she is hurting herself I can call them and they'll have to take her to do a 51/50 test, etc, and then some therapy, she eventually stopped and came out of it. Their hormones/puberty has a big part of it too. Sorry I don't think I helped. Maybe you can find someone that has been in her shoes but is older now with a good head she can talk too. ?? Good luck

Michelle - posted on 02/27/2011

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Wow...this is a tough situation. And not sure we parents who have never gone through this have the tools to give sound advice. What I would strongly suggest, is talk to your family doctor about this, and ask for his help. He could point you to the correct counsellor or therapist who does have the tools and knowledge to be able to pass those tools along to you. I wish you all the very best!!!

Alexandra - posted on 02/24/2011

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These links will help:



http://crystal.palace.net/~llama/selfinj...

(This link has a section for family members)





http://helpguide.org/mental/self_injury....





Has this girl been sexually abused in any way? In a lot of cases girls who cut themselves do it because they have a history of childhood sexual abuse and hate their body/ themselves for it, either consciously or subconsciously. In some cases, this may or may not be associated with eating disorders.



She needs understanding, and therapy...tough love will only drive her further away and make the problem worse.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 02/04/2011

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Mindy,

First, you, hubby, exwife and step-daughter are in my prayers.

Second, yeah, go ahead and put a first aid kit together, but TAKE HER TO THERAPY IMMEDIATELY. This is NOT something that a first aid kit and little parental (even wicked step mom) intervention will fix. It needs ALOT of parental intervention and love and professional help.

Thank God for your downstairs neighbor. Since she's confided in him, she's saying she's ready for help, and I think she may have an idea that you will help her. Step up, step mom! You are doing the absolutely correct thing!

Zoe - posted on 02/03/2011

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Hi Mindy, bad news, she needs help yes, but she also needs exeptence and love. you dont need to confrunt her, but you could try putting a first aid kit together for her and giving it to her, tell her that you know you dont understand but you do love her and will always be there for her and if she needs help with dressing hes cuts you will without juging her. good luck.

Jane - posted on 01/31/2011

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YOU can't do anything...she needs counseling and she needs it fast. Cutting is a way of releasing other types of pain. She is emotionally hurting and by cutting, the physical pain helps her through the emotional pain. COUNSELING, COUNSELING, COUNSELING!!!!!!

Paulla - posted on 01/31/2011

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I went through the cutting w/my daughter when she was about the same age. Please get her professional help AND FAST! It gets worse. They often start cutting deeper and in places that you can't see. My daughter has a few really big,ugly scars but thankfully she did go to therapy and that did help.

DeAnna - posted on 01/31/2011

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This child need proffesional help, to many cases like this are gone without treatment and have ended up in devestation for the family and death for the child. Suicide is a very real thing and when a teen gets to the end of their rope they think it is the only solution- PLEASE get her help before it is too late.

Christina - posted on 01/29/2011

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You can't ground her for this behavior. Cutters cut because feeling physical pain actually relieves the emotional pain they are feeling. I can't describe it very well, but when you cut, all the pain and hurt you feel goes away for a while and you have emotional relief for a little bit. You need to put her in therapy.

Georgann - posted on 01/24/2011

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Get her into counseling ASAP and let her know how much you care, but do not under any circumstance make the cutting a 'reason' to walk on eggshells with her. My daughter was a cutter and at times she used that as a way to try to get what she wanted. I never let her manipulate me that way though and finally, after a few years, she has gotten past it. Now my younger daughter has a friend whose mother allows her to manipulate...she is so afraid that if she doesn't give in to her daughter that she'll hurt herself but she ultimately doing her daughter more harm this way. Confront it and be strong...it is a hard thing to understand but be patient and seek out professional help right away! Good luck.

Tina - posted on 01/19/2011

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ive got three teenage kids who do this the pychlogist said that it was a way of deleaseing anger from something that is bothering them but the youngest of the three is bad at cutting

Kriss - posted on 01/19/2011

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There are Rhee reasons: coping mechanism, a way of realeasw to feel. Even if the cause is treated the moat important thing is to focus on what is the cause. They may not realiE why. But something occures to start it. Cutting is a symptom. Find the cause. Take it from a 16 year cutter!

Karen - posted on 01/19/2011

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GET HER HELP!!! Drag her kicking and screaming if necessary. She will be mad for now but later on in her life, she will be thanking you.

[deleted account]

I know the feeling of being scared for the life of your kid. Recently we've had similar problems. My son fell in love with a girl but the relationship wasn't good for him because he started lying, hiding things from us - his family. We spent hours and hours talking about that relationship. We defined boundaries but it was really difficult. Sometimes he had a difficult time and he wanted to be alone. I was afraid because I wasn't sure that he is emotionally strong enough. I found scratches and I asked him about them. At first he didn't want to tell me. Then I continued asking him. I was careful to show that I really care about him. He said that I wouldn't understand and I wouldn't like it. But I insisted: "Please, tell me. It doesn't matter if I like it. I prefer to hear not so pretty things but to know what happens with you. Because I care!" I think every teenager HAS to hear things like this every day.
And I made a guess: "I think you have a really difficult time and have emotional pain. You tried to stop it but nothing happened. You have to know that you can't take away the emotional pain with physical pain. It works but just for a moment. Then it starts again and it is even more painful." He was surprised. He thought I didn't understand. He thought I've never had problems with emotional pain. But I've had and I could talk from my experience. I told him that I can't promise he will never have painful moments again. Cutting himself, taking drugs or drinking alcohol, having sex - all these don't solve problems. Life isn't easy. And if he wants to be grown up he must learn how to deal with that. And that is part of being grown up. To be adult isn't just to do what you want. It is to take a responsibility for your actions too. And I explained that it is a process - he can't learn it immediately.

I think that the right way to help our children is to show them understanding and accepting. Sometimes they act like hating us. Most of the time this is a reaction because they are confused and they really don't know how to deal with their emotions and thoughts. They don't really hate us. And in moments like this if we are tough and we try to discipline them they accept our behavior like: "My parents don't like me!" We have to tell them that we don't approve their behavior but we love them extremely much. That's way we want to talk with them, we want to help them. And if it is necessary we will ask a specialist for help.

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