Cutting

Tami - posted on 01/15/2009 ( 16 moms have responded )

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I have a 16 year old step daughter who has done "cutting" and I can't seem to get her father or mother to understand how serious this issue is! I mean, since I am not a parent, I have no authority to take her to counseling or try to get her help! What can I do? I've talked with her father and he's starting to "get" it but with him gone a lot with the military he's never around long enough to really spend time with her and do something about it! She's crying out for attention and no one is there to help! Anyone have any advice?

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[deleted account]

Quoting Tami:

Cutting

I have a 16 year old step daughter who has done "cutting" and I can't seem to get her father or mother to understand how serious this issue is! I mean, since I am not a parent, I have no authority to take her to counseling or try to get her help! What can I do? I've talked with her father and he's starting to "get" it but with him gone a lot with the military he's never around long enough to really spend time with her and do something about it! She's crying out for attention and no one is there to help! Anyone have any advice?


 

Amanda - posted on 10/08/2009

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If she would like someone to talk to, she could talk to me. I used to cut all the time and people cut for all different kinds of reasons. I have never really wanted to kill myself through my cuts, but anytime I get depressed... it still screams out at me how peaceful I feel once I cut, and it makes me want to do it all over again.





She just needs someone to talk to. Even if you aren't a true parent, you can still be a friend and speak to her. Those kinds of people just need a friend, someone that makes them feel that they aren't alone, someone that makes them feel loved and understood. And if need be, I wouldn't mind talking to her. I could relate and understand.. but I think you should attempt first. Words can do so much for a person who is screaming at and she may prefer someone that isn't mommy or daddy. I know when I did it, I never wanted my parents to talk to me about it. I'd scream at my father for even noticing!

Betty - posted on 09/28/2009

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The best thing you can do for her is have fun with her and be willing to listen to her when she is telling you about something she cares about. Even if it seems stupid to you and has nothing to do with her being depressed. You sound like a great mom.

[deleted account]

I don't have time to write alot... but I had to tell you my experience - I was a self-injurer from age 15-23 (I'm 31 now) and it was horrible. I'm sorry for your SD AND for you and your family. I want to recommend the book "Bodily Harm" and the program S.A.F.E. Alternatives. www.selfinjury.com. I did the month-long program and it saved my life.

Blessings,

Lisa

Amber-lee - posted on 09/28/2009

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i was depressed and cutting when i was younger, what helped was being able to talk to my partner about it, as long as your always there for her she should start to pick up.. if she gets worse i think there may be something really really bad she isn't telling you's

Debbie - posted on 01/29/2009

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Hi, I'm not sure if this will help, but I took in a run away a few yrs ago and she has a personality disorder, which at times she feels compelled to cut, not to kill herself but to feel relief, its like when they see the blood its washing away all the hurt and anger inside that they don't know how to deal with. Her therapist suggested she get a red marker and use that next time she 'cut' she still got to see the red but with out the damage to herself.

I would definately try to get professional help first, just thought that maybe the red pen idea may help. Talk to her let her know that what ever is said will be in total confidence, and it must be. If her parents need to know anything encourage her to tell them herself, give her the support she needs to do that. Good luck, she is lucky to have you, sounds like you are the only one hearing her cry!!!

Jennifer - posted on 01/29/2009

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Take her to see a chaplain. They do counseling and it wouldn't be seen as "treatment"...just some much needed time to vent and hopefully open up in a safe environment (ie. no parents.)



Also, you have the authority to help her. As someone who IS a parent  but, more importantly as someone who LOVES her. Reach out to her. Don't be obviously calculating, just spend as much time with her as you can doing things she enjoys. You may have to deal with a stupid movie or a clothing store you can't stand but, any time you spend devoted to her will help her to realize she is not alone in whatever she is dealing with. Take her for a day getting your hair and nails done if she is in to that sort of thing. Take her to dinner at her favorite restaurant..even if that is Taco Bell..go inside, order and eat there with her. Chat about whatever and tell her you love her and that no matter what is going on you are ALWAYS there for her. You have to be genuine with a kid..especially a teen. They can sense insincereity a mile away. If you feel hassled by her or you can't get around thing like the way she dresses or the music she listens to then she will most likely give you only the "outer layer" of herself. Take time with her. Be as calm as you can be about everything she has to say. Don't lay aside your values but defer judgment until you can better assess her situation. Blessings to you. Teens are tough! I was one of them! :o)

Tami - posted on 01/28/2009

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My husband just told me they put her on anti-depressants. I don't know if that will help but I do hope it does. I know there are a lot of underlying issues she has (main concern was that her mother loves her son [brother] more than her daughter [her]). I'm glad to know we shouldn't be worried about suicide, but in reality, it's the first thing that crosses my mind. To be honest, I contemplated suicide when I was a little younger than she was. My sister was the only one who understood me so she helped. I have to be that for my SD. I really hope we can help her.



Thank you all for your support. I really appreciate it! 

Christy - posted on 01/23/2009

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Tami,



 



There could be a couple of reason's she's cutting.  There has been a trend, although disturbing, of teenage girls cutting. Some I've seen do it almost as a fad.  I even had one tell me once she did it beacuse all her friends cut but she didn't like it so she stopped.  She could also be crying out for help.  I've worked in child protective services and behavioral health. When I worked in behavioral health I worked mostly with women who had Borderline Personality Disorder, all of whom cut or abused themselves in some way. They did it because of deep emotional pain and past abuse.  When they cut they felt better.   One told me it was easer to deal with the physical pain than the emotional pain. 



 



As for what to do I would call the guidance counselor at her school like Jessica said or you can make a child protective servie report.  I'm not sure about your state but most allow anonymous CPS reporting.  The fact is if she is cutting and her mother refuses to get her the treatment she needs its NEGLECT, medical neglect to be exact.  You can make an anonymous report to the child protective service agency where she lives (has to be made where the primary custodian lives).  The will have to investigate and can put her on a family plan that would require her to take your step daughter to counseling or risk loosing custody for neglect.  It sounds harsh but not helping a child when they are crying out is neglect.

Catrina - posted on 01/22/2009

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Tami - As Donna said, I don't believe cutting is considered suicidal behavior. I grew up a cutter, and have made my way from it. I'm a grown mother with a blended family of 5 kids. One SD and one SS....I remember sitting and watching the blood grow into a larger drip, and actually feeling relief. I found different outlets to channel my frustration, anger, hurt, pain etc.....

I'm not sure if there is a support group or something you could personally get in contact with to try and reach her on her own level. There's something there. I remember my mom yelling at me instead of asking why? Or shaking her head at me. I use to tell her she had no clue, and should be grateful I wasn't out using drugs or drinking - whatever else there was I could do to deal with my issues.

Again it takes some time, but if she's opened up to you about it, don't close that door.

Donna - posted on 01/22/2009

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Hi Tami,

My daughter and stepson (both grown now)were also "cutters". A couple of books you might find helpful would be "the bright red scream" & "cutting". Cutting is a symptom of deep underlying emotional pain that can only find a release through bloodshed, if you will. Counseling is vital and an assessment of her anxiety level. Also, it is a cry for attention so the less attention you pay to the actual "cutting" and the more attention you pay to the emotions that lead to the cutting, the better off she will be. Not considered suicidal behavior by the way--emotional. Best of luck, glad she can talk to you.

Tami - posted on 01/22/2009

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Thank you everyone for your support and suggestions. I do have the same last name as her. I don't see her often enough.



I know my husband has said that he's talked to her mother about it but I thnk she's in denial and doesn't think it's necessary. He's trying to get her help. We've made a few attempts to start counseling with her but the schedule has never worked for her mother and now my husband is off next week for another Army assignment next week. He has said that her mother is willing to continue counseling as long as it's the same person she used in the past. I will keep talking to my SD to make sure she's doing OK while her dad is gone.



Last summer we went shopping a few times and it wasn't until we went to Europe to see her dad (I was shocked her mother let me take her) that she started to open up about her problems and confided in me. I hope I am wrong about some of the observations I made of her while in Europe but we won't know until we do counseling. On the weekends her dad will be home we'll continue with the counseling.



I've always told her she can talk to me about anything. I'll be a friend as long as she lets me.



Again, thanks for the posts. I'll report back as things progress.

[deleted account]

Hi Tami,



As a long time step Mom I can tell you that you don't have any legal rights :(...also as someone who works in the mental health field I can tell you that they won't allow you to make any appts for her. Do like Jessica suggested, if you have the same last name, call and make appt ( is she's willing to go ?) and then take her. They will ask a lot of questions ( name, address, SS#, DOB, her issues, insurance stuff) if you can answer these questions you should be good to go.



Your right, this is serious !! However, don't think she is automatically suicidal....but you could ask her if she feels that way. If she does then you can ask her if she has a plan, if she does-just take her to the nearest hospital w/psych unit ( do you have a crisis center in your area you can call ?) a crisis center could be very helpful to you...and her, make sure she has their number in case SHE wants to call.



If you have anymore ?.....please post, I'll keep checking back here until about 11pm or so.



Hang in there girl....keep up the loving work your doing :) you are making a difference to her !



Beth

[deleted account]

As a step parent you have every right! Go get her help. I have a step son who started to hang around a kid at school who is emu and I guess cutting is the new trend. He is not alowed to hang out with the kid anymore but my son still dresses like them. If your daughter is not getting support from anyone you may be her only hope. Usualy there is an underlying factor as to why she is doing that.



Good luck and God bless!

Dawn - posted on 01/16/2009

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Talk to her.  If her parents aren't listening - you keep listening.  She obviously trusts you a great deal to confide such a personal problem with you. 



Just be there for her - love her - and tell her that what she's doing has to stop - then help her find a way to stop.

Jessica - posted on 01/15/2009

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Does she live with you at all?  And do you have the same last name as her?  I know this sounds horrible but we had my husbands ex pull so much crap that we learned a few tricks.  In a lot of cases if you word it properly they never need to know that she's not "your" daughter.  However, she has to be seriously seeking help and willing to 'ignore' the fib for this to work. 



I don't know where you live, but is there a KidsHelp Phone?  You can try just slipping a card into her purse on leave it laying somewhere kind of out in the open.



Try calling her school guidance counsellor.  I think you can even do it anonymously and they have to follow through - they might not be the best trained help, but it's a start and maybe as close as you can get to a confidential trained helper.



If you're involved with a religious group, there is sometimes a youth counsellor and though it may be over their head to provide proper help, as a last resort it might get people (family) talking about the problem.



Hope something here sounds like a solution to you - it's definitely a tricky situation. 



Always remember that there is an underlying problem causing the person to feel they must cut, and ultimately THAT's what has to be dealt with, not the cutting itself.  If you think it's just lack aof attention, perhaps just letting her know you care will be enough?!



 



Good Luck, I feel for you - I can't imagine what I would do!

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