My girlfriend cuts herself.

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I don’t know what to do, but I do NOT want to just sit by and pretend like I’m not seeing all those fresh cuts on her. I want to help, if I can.
It is unfortunately one of the things I find myself really uncomfortable with since I’ve never had experience with it, and can personally not understand it.

We’ve been close friends for a long while. I’ve had a crush on her for over a year and finally got the balls to confess amonth ago, and she liked me back.
I had seen small scars on her arms before, but didn’t want to prod since I wanted to give her some space and not push about it. The other week she stayed over a couple nights and I saw an enormous amount of fresh cuts on the insides of her legs, red, swollen and just about scabbing up. It looked like she did it two days before, tops. There were so many of them. I didn’t say anything about it then, either. I have no idea how to approach it.

She’s not sure how to talk about things and doesn’t find it comfortable, but says she wants to learn so she can trust people and so they can trust her. I’ve told her I’m there for her and that I love her and care for her and want nothing but her best, and that I will listen to anything she wants to talk about. She’s thankful for this, but hasn’t said anything. This is okay.
I just want to know if there’s a way I can help. The last thing I want is for her to be in any kind of pain. What can I do?

Category: Tags: asked October 22, 2014

2 Answers

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accepted
Honestly, I'd just bring it up. Not "Hey, so I saw these cuts." I'd set the mood for it. Take her out to eat, for ice cream, coffee, something. Talk for awhile about the things you guys normally talk about. Then, bring it up. EX of how to bring it up. "(Insert name here) I've noticed these cuts and . . . I don't want to over step my boundaries, but I care about you and can't stand seeing you hurt yourself like this. I want you to know that I'll be here for you. (What is key here is not to say always, don't promise things you can't keep.) I want to help you. (Don't tell her you don't know how. That could come off he wrong way.) Give her time to talk. Don't rush her, she'll need her time. If you have the chance, but don't make it awkward and you don't have to do this, but something that is romantic and shows us you care (Yes, i used to self harm and I'm female. I know what I'm talking about.) would be to kiss her scares. If she has ones on her arms just kiss them lightly, butterfly like. Trust me. And then, just cheek up on her. Text or call her asking her how she is every day. Try and be sensitive to when she is having a bad day and may just want to stay home and eat chocolate. But, something to never believe is that if she is crying and she says, "I want to be let alone." she is basically saying the opposite and at the very least you should let her calm down and then cheek in on her latter, max 30 min latter. Don't give her to much time to wallow in her grief. Make her laugh, make her smile, make her love life again.
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I agree with Katherine. Be kind, gentle, and patient with her. Also, if she is okay with it, find ways to get her help and end the SI urges or find alternatives, like slashing plastic bottles and cardboard if she's angry, smoothing body lotion into the parts she wants to hurt if she's feeling depressed, squeezing ice cubes if she's craving the sensation, painting herself with red ink if she wants to see blood, or getting a henna tattoo kit if she wants to pick at scabs. There are many different options. If you want, you can read up more on topics like this so you can be ready if she decides she wants you to help her.

If she opens up to you, please remember to remind her that she isn't weak if she cuts again and tells you about it. She would already be incredibly brave for having the courage to talk to you about it. If she lets you, kiss her scars and tell her that she's beautiful, scars and all. Make sure she feels safe and loved, and that she knows that no matter what, she can come to you with anything. Don't be too hurt if she doesn't want to talk, if she talks with others but not you, or if she's having difficulties trusting you; this relationship alone required an immense amount of trust to get into, and she may need lots of time to work up the courage to talk to you. You're willing to be there for her. Make sure she never forgets that.