I am 26 and leading a happy, ‘normal’ and fulfilling life. Although Annie would say that the only normal she knew was the cycle on a washing machine or the type of shampoo I used in the shower!
I am very proud to announce that since my participation in the SAFE program, I haAdd Newve been abuse-free since Saturday the 8th of September 2001. The SAFE program increased my awareness, educated me in why I self-abused, and gave me ongoing support and encouragement with the end result of dramatically changing my life for the better. I would go as far to say that it actually saved my life. If I hadn’t stopped hurting myself so badly I truly believe I would never have made it to my 21st Birthday.
Whether I accidentally took that few too many pills or cut that bit too deep and hit an artery, it was just a matter of time. I felt like a big black round bomb whose fuse was burning out of control and one day help wouldn’t get to me in time. SAFE call it accidental suicide and that is what it is because we don’t want to kill ourselves, we just need to kill the internal pain using physical pain to bring us back from the dissociation we often deeply sink into. The trouble is it’s short-term relief for long-term damage, or death!
As a young girl, year 7 in high school, I was walking home from school, after attending an afterhours sports club, when I suddenly got grabbed from behind and dragged into the bush where this evil man hit me and punched me and finally raped me using every orifice I had in my body that he could fit in, leaving me for dead I wasn’t found until the next morning. I don’t remember anything after he had done his awful deeds then tried to kick and punch me to death. I spent 2 weeks in intensive care and a further 12 weeks in hospital, then came rehab!
My parents showed such concern to the public and others until we were behind doors, then it must have been my fault, I must have encouraged him, I was a dirty little slut who deserved what I got. Yes, I did say my parents! It was hard to work out if it was them or the alcohol talking, whatever it was it hurt and hurt deeply. So, I would hide in my room away from them, here in my sanctuary I learned a survival behaviour called self-abuse.
It started with pinching Mum’s sleepers and valium, they made me sleep and took me away from the hell I felt inside, they soothed the inner pain. Then I soon realized having some alcohol with them gave a more intensive outcome and made me sleep so much longer.
Thankfully I had an adorable Aunty who believed in me and helped me by letting me stay with her heaps. When she realized what I was doing she helped me. Once I was 14 and able to divorce my parents, I moved in with my Aunty. We were able to get a restraining order against my parents which stopped them from threatening me. My Aunty also got me help to get off the valium and sleepers. There was no alcohol allowed in the house either.
Then 4 months later my Aunty became quite ill, after many tests and visits to specialists she was told that she had a very aggressive cancer and had a maximum of 6 months to live. She lasted 2! Suddenly I felt 11 again! My whole life fell apart and the small amount of progress I had made suddenly was shattered. I couldn’t go back to my parents, so the only choice I had was foster parents and I had to move away for this. It was obvious that they could not cope with the obvious trauma and distress I seemed to constantly be in and outwardly demonstrating.
Again my room became my sanctuary, with the excuse I was studying. My compass became my new survival behaviour starting with deep scratching, then one night I must have cut a little too hard and my blood started to flow. I can’t put into words the relief I felt watching the blood drip out of my leg. I always wore trousers, so legs were easy to hide! For about 6 months I found myself cutting every day and sometimes several times a day to try and ease the pain. Then I became sick, several of the cuts had become so infected that I got toxic poisoning and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, the secret was out which totally freaked my foster parents and they didn’t want me back. So they sent me to new foster parents and within a week it was very clear it wasn’t going to work, their eldest son didn’t waste any time in letting me know what he wanted and would get, whatever it took. So I pinched the foster Mum’s purse and took the window exit in the early hours of the morning and made a run for it. I didn’t want to steal, but it was only way of escaping.
I lived on the streets for a while, then the police caught up with me and they gave me a warning. I got a job at Macca’s and found myself a flat. But I couldn’t keep my job and became mentally very unstable. I spent a while in the psych ward and then got put on a disability pension. Still harming at least once daily, life was getting so out of control until my case manager suggested I join the SAFE program, as if that would help! How wrong was I!
The facilitator was so real, her passion was infectious and inspirational to a point that I became determined to not only successfully stop my self-abusive behaviours, but also to go back to study and become a helper for others. I am currently studying Cert IV in Mental Health and will graduate in June.
SAFE provided me with the skills necessary to identify my feelings, triggers and negative self-talk, and deal with them more appropriately, along with the knowledge and ability that enabled me to stop my self-abusive behaviours.
It’s not just the physical wounds that we inflict on ourselves that are so destructive, it’s the self-defeating behaviours, where we constantly tell ourselves we are worthless, useless and don’t deserve to be liked, instead we deserve to be punished and be unhappy. We see ourselves as horrible, ugly and undeserving people. We trust no-one and push everything to the limit, shunning anyone who tries to be caring because they are bound to want something in return. We don’t believe in unconditional anything; everything has a condition or expectation placed on it!
I say we, because I know that I am not the only one who feels this way and it was SAFE that helped me realize I was not alone in my struggle with self-abuse. This alone gives you hope and the program instils that hope.
If you are self-abusing in any way, you need to get help straight away, the longer you leave it, the harder it is to stop. Self-abuse can become an addiction for some. Not being bias, of course, but a SAFE program has to be the best option, it worked for me!
If you’re a significant other, you need to be supportive and understanding and very very patient! You need to find information and support to be able to understand and cope with what is happening. Please don’t be an ostrich and bury your head in the sand – you could suffocate! Try not to let us push you away, we tend to be very good at that! Try to encourage the self-abuser to seek some supportive and practical assistance to deal with their condition. Check out for any SAFE programs in your area.
The important thing to always remember is that we can recover, manage our lives and be happy again – I am thanks to SAFE and the BITCH [Annie]! As Mary would say, there is always hope where there is life! I’m sure that was her saying. Keep SAFE always.