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I was a self-abuser

In 1996 I had a lot of bad things happen to me and I tried to take my own life on several occasions. It all just seemed to go from bad to worse and all the times that things went wrong it seemed that I didn’t know how to cope. So I just cut or hurt myself. I can’t count the number of social workers, counselors and psychologists I have been through; I felt they were false and that I couldn’t be honest with them. They were strangers who didn’t know me from a bar of soap. Some made it obvious that they thought I was just trying to get attention and it was clear they really didn’t understand self-abuse. A couple tried to show me that they cared, but it was too hard to trust anyone anymore because when I did trust someone they hurt me bad and ruined my life. In the past every time someone was nice to me there always seemed to be something they would want back. Male workers were like a red flag to a bull because of what had happened to me by a man.

I moved into a program that introduced me to SAFE. They helped me a lot to deal with myself harming, lack of self-esteem and worth, and lack of confidence. They treated me with dignity and respect something that I hadn’t experienced for a long time. They also believed me and in me.

When I went to speak with Annie the manager of the program, she explained that it wouldn’t be easy. But if I really wanted to stop and was willing to work hard, they would support and encourage me to learn new ways of coping so I didn’t have to keep hurting myself.

I actually said straight out “No” because I didn’t want to go through the terrible things that happened to me and all the bad memories again. A few days later I decided to ring the manager again and she invited me to go and talk with her more. Annie was so friendly and clearly expected nothing back, she just wanted me to try and help myself. She was very honest and promised me nothing because only I could do the changing. This talk made me decide that I had nothing to lose and that I would give it a go. I now know this to be the most important decision I have made in my life. It gave me my life!

The first week started and I didn’t feel unhappy at all, it was amazing and I really hadn’t felt this way for such a long time. It was the light at the end of my tunnel and the hope that I needed to share with other people who also wanted to stop what they were doing and get their life back. There was so much unconditional support and I found that everything has a crack to let the light in! We learned that there was a humorous side to self-abuse and we did lots of smiling and laughter because it has been proven that if you are smiling or laughing you can’t be sad. We shared many tears, hugs and affirmations too.

It was very hard on and off but I did complete the program and graduated. It was very important to celebrate with everyone and be acknowledged for the hard work we all did. The manager of SAFE and her staff were very nice and willing to help out and support us all when we needed it. They gave us all so much support and they challenged us too. We all went away knowing we were good people who deserved kindness, not just from others, but from ourselves. I learned that Challenge is all your dreams come true… if only you have the courage to pursue them. You need courage and faith in yourself and the rewards are priceless with SAFE.

I think that there needs to be a peer support group for people who self-abuse until they can get into a program. Family, carers, friends and workers also need a support group so they can learn more and be able to share their experiences because self-abusers are hard to be with or work with and are often put in the too hard to handle basket. I was until SAFE came into my life.
I have not hurt myself since February 2002. I have moved inter-state, changed my name, done some TAFE and have a full-time job with a mental health support agency. I now help others to help themselves too.

Juliet – 27 years old.