How to answer questions about self harm scars

Material caution: Self-harm

Due to some concerns I had a couple of years ago with self harming (associated to psychological health concerns which I no longer have – hurrah!), I’m entrusted to a great deal of uncomfortable scars on my lower arm. They show up whenever I’m not using long sleeves.

I do not mind my scars showing up. They frequently are, in my everyday life. I likewise do not mind speaking about them, however it’s a conversation I choose to have in a proper environment, on a one-to-one basis. There are numerous apparent factors for that. Individuals seldom inquire about them.

Nevertheless, there has actually been more than one celebration where, in a huge group setting, someone has actually been especially singing about them. Just recently, at a celebration, someone loudly asked “What are those marks on your lower arm?”, prior to turning a deep shade of red and looking mortified. The space immediately went quiet, I made some sort of uncomfortable joke, and discussions resumed once again. It was uncomfortable, to state the least.

I do not blame individuals for asking at all, and I accept that it’s a possibility in these scenarios if I’m not going to devote to using long sleeves to every celebration I ever go to. I do accept that this is a service to the issue, however it’s not one that I wish to comply with.

Exists an excellent way to handle a situation like the above, should it emerge?

I’m searching for a method to relieve the stress, and likewise make it clear that I do not believe the individual who’s asked the concern has actually done anything incorrect. Preferably, I ‘d like the result to alter. Last time this occurred, I made some sort of odd joke (which didn’t truly make good sense), and after that among my more positive good friends loudly resumed his discussion and things continued. What I’m hoping for is a method to rapidly respond to the concern without coming off as ashamed or upset, and without looking like I’m upset/annoyed with the individual who asked the concern.

Short article upgraded July 22, 2019.

The very first day I came to school with a little scratch on my arm, I was frightened that somebody may inquire about it. As the scratches increased and grew, I was filled with this extreme pity that I felt would never ever disappear. 4 years later on, I am covered in scar tissue from various cuts and burns for many years, however I can entirely forget them. I will use shorts and brief gowns, and short-sleeves and feel comfy in my own skin with little or no awareness of how others view me. That is, up until somebody states something.

” What occurred to your legs?” is the most typical thing I hear, followed by, “Did you do that to yourself?” I never ever mind if kids are the ones asking, even if their moms and dads are mortified, however with grownups and young people I have actually never ever fulfilled in the past, it’s merely uncalled for and it’s frequently uneasy to deal with.

Personally, I have never ever let these concerns or remarks prevent me from using clothing I like. Not just have unfavorable responses stopped to trouble me any longer, however I recognize now that I can impact others in a favorable method. It makes a distinction for other teens who have actually concealed their self-inflicted injuries for years and years, to see somebody who handled to (mainly) surpass the preconception. To be truthful, if somebody respectfully asks out of issue for my wellness, I happily respond to any concerns they have. I’m extremely open. As I have actually discovered, some individuals are horrible and simply meddlesome. If you have self-harm scars and you aren’t sure how to handle the “real life’s” response to them, here are a couple of pointers.

1. You are not bound to address their concerns if a therapist or physician is making you uneasy.


You are paying them, not the other method around. I have actually had therapists attempt and touch my scars, and more than a couple of have actually asked unusually particular concerns that were setting off and even simply uncomfortable. Yes, it’s their task to get you out of your convenience zone, however you do not require to inform them particular things that make you uneasy. And if they are activating you, let them understand; if they’re any proficient at all, they’ll stop.

2. You do not owe any person a description if it’s not their task to ask.


Therapists, moms and dads and medical professionals aside, you do not require to describe recovered scars to any person, ever. It is not your task to inform anybody why or how the injuries were caused. In my viewpoint, some individuals need to not be humored, ever. Expressions like “You didn’t do that to yourself, did you?” or “Why did you cut yourself?” can be indications that the asker is currently making presumptions and judgments and need to be closed down as quickly as possible. In my experience, engaging with them will leave you tired and embarrassed, and will declare the concept that it’s OKAY for them to be excessively meddlesome. Do not ever feel regret over safeguarding your body from undesirable attention, in any situation (not simply this one). That may be various if a buddy or household member asks about them out of issue for your wellness. Specifically with total strangers, it’s definitely great to inform them it’s not their company. On that note:

3. It’s OKAY to inform individuals that it’s not their company.


I have actually discovered that the most reliable method to fight purposeful shame or pity is to turn the tables on whoever is triggering it, letting them understand that their actions are not OKAY. In my viewpoint, the most convenient method to do this is to inform them as nicely, however securely, as possible: “That’s truly none of your company.” Is it uncomfortable? Yes. As uncomfortable as it may be for you, it will be much more uncomfortable for the other individual. There’s no damage done here, due to the fact that if they implied well, they will respectfully take it as a no; and if they were simply being meddlesome, it can be among the most effective methods to shut them down.

4. No one ought to be touching your scars without your specific approval.


I as soon as had a therapist who wished to touch my scars which was odd, however loved ones frequently believe it’s alright for them to touch without asking. It’s not. No matter how close you are with someone, they do not get to touch your body without your specific approval. That’s a guideline. Moms and dads particularly often require a tip of individual area and borders, which does not require to be uncomfortable or remarkable. Simply state, “I ‘d choose if you didn’t touch my scars.” It’s OKAY– you have every right to your own body.

5. The option to expose or keep scars concealed is individual and is yours to make and re-make whenever you like.


Your sensations are not void, no matter what you pick to do with your body. When I was initially adapting to revealing recovered scars in public, I would go through some days where I felt entirely comfy using shorts and brief sleeves, and others where all I wished to do was cover myself. You do not require to seem like after a specific quantity of time, you need to act and feel in a different way than you did in the past. If you wish to press yourself past your convenience zone, that’s remarkable, however that’s your choice and nobody else’s. Daily and hour to hour, you and just you might pick what’s OKAY for you at that minute.

6. Kids do not judge.


Kids are excessively curious, blunt, nose-picking true blessings to all of us. Like anybody else, they do not get to touch you without your approval, however remember that no tottering kid is going to evaluate you for your scars. Be mild and kind with them, due to the fact that unlike grownups and young people, they do not understand much better. They typically simply wish to make certain you’re OKAY, in the most innocent method they perhaps could, which’s a belief that we need to constantly motivate and support. I have actually discovered it’s likewise a chance to turn something unfortunate into something favorable. If I have enough energy, I will describe to kids, “I got injured a long period of time earlier, now it’s all recovered!” or “I had some boo-boos, now they’re all much better! Have you ever gotten a boo-boo?” If I’m feeling a little less spritely, an easy “It’s OKAY, they’re much better now,” and a fast modification in subject will be adequate. In the end, everybody can gain from the innocence of a 4-year-old, and perhaps one day we can take a look at our own scars and see something favorable in the truth that yes, we were injured, however we likewise recovered.


If you or somebody you understand requirements assist, visit our suicide avoidance resources page.


If you battle with self-harm and you require support today, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to741-741. For a list of methods to manage self-harm advises, click here.


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Sort of a 2 part concern. What to state when somebody inquires about it (when they ask “what happened/what are those from?” it looks like typical understanding to currently understand the response so I do not comprehend why they would ask that in the very first location). Likewise what to state when individuals make impolite comments/fun of it. I simply do not understand what the ideal action would be. And individuals inquiring about it or laughing at would either resemble older teens/adults so it’s … learn more

have you ever checked out a few of the ironical quotes in reply to those who r impolite. i work as a psychological health nurse and have scars of my own. I was embarrassed about them however i got to the point poeple asked were interested and i i was weak. others u can inform are been sarcy so i offer scarcy reactions back like
it draws having an other half whos a sadist
there not cuts there hives, im adverse morons.
take a look at your scars and frown; you do not have any?
OmG wTF where did they originate from then smile or shout.
individuals are oblivious and do not truly comprehend self damage so let them talk. a minimum of your crucial adequate therein unfortunate little life to be discussed!

Since self damage would not take place to me as a response,

I would be somebody that would ask. I would believe it was some sort of mishap. In fact now that I have actually read this I will be more delicate and I would not ask. Anyhow, manage it like any other impolite concern, simply offer “the appearance”, overlook the concern and alter the topic.

Since i am a cutter,

I have this issue with scars. I utilize cutting as a method of taking any serioius or more action to myself. i utilized to use long sleeves all the time now i simply do not offer a damn with what others think about me. often i get asked and i simply inform them the reality. When I cut) i attempt to do it where i typically use clothing, I went through a lot to get those scars (and now. I want I did not have this desire and my psychologist and i are dealing with it.

By Luna Greenstein

Have you ever took a look at somebody and observed a series of scars on their wrists? Did you pass or make a face judgement about that individual without understanding who they are or what they’re going through? Likely.

Of the lots of signs of psychological health conditions, self-harm is among the least comprehended and least had compassion. It’s likewise among the couple of physically noticeable signs. It’s frequently reacted to in a method that’s possibly damaging and bad. :


” That’s simply teenage angst.”

” Why would anybody do that to themselves?”

” You’re simply attempting to get attention.”

These responses grossly weaken how major self-harm is. Self-harm is typically an indication that an individual is having a hard time mentally and isn’t sure how to cope. It’s an indication that an individual requires assistance, understanding and expert assistance. Most notably, it’s an indication that should not be neglected or evaluated.

Your Preliminary Action

It can be stunning to observe an individual’s self-harm scars. Your impulse might be to look or instantly reveal shock. Self-harm is a delicate subject that ought to be approached in a specific method.

Whether you understand the individual or not, it is necessary not to show shock or scary even if that’s how you feel. Do not state anything that might pity them or make them feel evaluated or absurd. You do not wish to accentuate their scars, particularly in public.

If the individual is a buddy or relative, do not overlook what you have actually seen. Wait up until you are with them in personal, and after that talk with them about what you observed.

Having a Meaningful Discussion

The most fundamental part of talking with somebody about self-harm is to frame the discussion in a compassionate and encouraging method. If they do not open up right away, program issue for their wellness and be relentless. When having a discussion about self-harm, think about the following do’s and do n’ts:

  • Program empathy
  • Regard what the individual is informing you, even if you do not comprehend it
  • Stay mentally neutral
  • Listen, even if it makes you uneasy
  • Motivate them to utilize their voice, instead of their body as a method of self-expression
  • Motivate them to look for psychological healthcare
  • Pity them
  • Joke about it
  • Regret them about how their actions impact others
  • Offer demands
  • Advise them how it looks or what individuals will believe
  • Make presumptions

Continuing Assistance

After that very first discussion, it is necessary to follow-up with your enjoyed one to reveal your continuous assistance. Continue to ask about it and use to assist them discover a psychological health specialist if they have actually not looked for out care.

You can likewise use to assist recognize their self-harm activates. You can do this by asking concerns like: “What were you doing ahead of time?” “Existed anything that distress you or stressed out you out that day?” It might assist avoid future self-injury if an individual is more mindful of their triggers. Helping your enjoyed one discover and practice much healthier coping systems is likewise a terrific method to assist.

Self-harm is a severe concern that ought to be resolved as quickly as you discover it’s taking place. One of the finest things you can impart in an individual who is self-harming is that you are there for them and that you care about them. If you do not comprehend what they’re going through, you can constantly be practical to somebody even.

Discover more about self-harm throughout NAMI’s Ask the Professional Webinar on Thursday, March 1.
Click On This Link for additional information on the webinar and to sign up!

Laura Greenstein is interactions supervisor at NAMI.

How to answer questions about self harm scars

How to answer questions about self harm scars

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How to answer questions about self harm scars

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I have actually dealt with self-harm because I remained in seventh grade, so for about 8 years. And like many people who have actually dealt with self-injury, I have scars to reveal for it– lots of in noticeable locations I can not constantly conceal in the summer.

A couple of weeks earlier, I was at work, desperately calling what appeared to be an endless line of clients up until one complete stranger’s concern about the scars on my wrist triggered me to lose my concentration: “What occurred to your arm?”

I was entirely shocked that a total stranger felt it was alright to ask me about my body.

However it wasn’t a concern I have not been asked in the past. Since the weather condition heated up, I have actually been warding off comparable concerns from household, good friends, and associates:

” What are those scars from?”
” What occurred to you?”
” What did you do to your wrist/shoulder/thigh/ leg?”

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It’s tough enough for me in the warmer months to enable my scars to reveal. I have actually invested the majority of the summer season sensation awkward and attempting whatever I can to conceal my scars and make them less apparent, although the majority of the time this is difficult. Since I desire to prevent the awkwardness of the scar concerns, this is.

I understand I will be asked the scar concerns for the rest of my life, primarily due to the fact that society appears to offer others approval to discuss my body, when in truth, they have no right to do so. That’s a discussion for another day.

For many years, I have actually dealt with how to react when somebody asks the scar concerns. And more just recently, I have actually established a system of handling them which appears to be reliable.

How to answer questions about self harm scars

Typically, when I’m inquired about my scars in front of other grownups or kids, I am not ready to offer a truthful response about the origin of my scars. When my judgement and experience with an individual leads me to believe they will not have the ability to understand and comprehend precisely what self-injury is, I will not offer the genuine response.

Often I am prepared enough to have a reason prepared and waiting: “I entered a mishap at work opening boxes.” “Oh, those? I fell under a rosebush riding my bike a couple of years back and got quite batter.” And after that I proceed to another subject.

Periodically, however, the questioner will create one for me: “Did you get scratched by a feline? They can be vicious!” In those cases, I simply nod my head in arrangement due to the fact that typically I ‘d choose this interaction to be over with as quickly as possible.

When I am not able to summon up a reason for myself,

There are other times.

” Oh, it’s absolutely nothing.” And after that I begin speaking about something else.

About 90 percent of the time, I either offer some reason or alter the topic. Often, however, I have the ability to offer a truthful response about my scars. When there are not lots of individuals around, the truthful response is typically offered. The scenario typically includes somebody I’m close to, somebody I believe will comprehend, or somebody I believe may be assisted by my sharing this part of my life.

My truthful response typically sounds something like this: My scars are self-inflicted due to the fact that I battle with self-harm.

I am not self-destructive– I utilize self-injury as a method to manage extreme feelings and occasions. I understand it is an unhealthy coping system, however I am dealing with a therapist to reach complete healing. Do not feel odd about asking if you have any concerns. If you desire to comprehend, I desire to assist you comprehend.

Often this kind of sincerity brings vulnerability from my buddy. I have actually had a number of individuals admit their battle with self-injury after I have actually shared mine.

A couple of years back, I had a camper who observed my scars and approached me with issue due to the fact that she had actually linked the scars to self-injury on her own. She later on showed me how she had actually been considering harming herself and we had the ability to get her assistance.

Often my sincerity and vulnerability brings me support, hope, and strength.

When she asked me about my scars,

I was calling up one of my colleagues. I fumbled for a reason and after that she asked me flat-out “Are you a cutter?” She then showed me her niece’s battle with self-injury and advised me that everyone has their own scars and their own things they handle and informed me not to be ashamed or embarrassed by my scars. She stated she was sorry that many people do not comprehend the discomfort and battle I go through however that she understood how strong I was.

Her words to me filled me with a lot hope and strength.

It truly depends on each specific person and where you remain in your healing regarding if you wish to share the reality concerning the origin of your scars.

I didn’t share a lot early on in my healing. If it is a proper time, individual, and location to share, I likewise believe it depends on. I undoubtedly do not inform my kids I babysit the reality, simply “Sarah had an ouchy, however it’s all much better now.”

Never ever feel forced to expose more than you are comfy with, no matter who is asking.

Since you have scars,

Your body is your own and no one has the right to comment on it or make you feel inferior or abject. Share as little or as much as you desire– whatever feels right to you.

Constantly keep in mind: We are more than our scars.

We each are an entire individual and we can never ever be specified by our battles, our errors, our obstacles, or our scars. We are a lot more.