I was asked to write about what it’s like being a male who self harms. I am a survivor of long-term childhood sexual abuse, I didn’t self harm during the abuse itself as I went to live with my biological father which ended the abuse.
My father was a busy man, I met my half brother, my half sister 2 step-brothers and a step-sister and i became very close with my step sister.I learnt she cut herself when really upset, at first I didn’t understand it. Then a year or two later I had a falling out with a friend, and used a nail to cut for the first time. It was just a few scrapes on my wrist, but when I used that cold metal object to scrape away that little bit of flesh I felt better.
Maybe it was the pain releasing endorphins in my brain or maybe it just reminded me I was alive. I didn’t know why it made me feel better I just knew that it did. Within a few months it had become an everyday thing and at this time I only cut on my arms. I would wear long sleeves to cover my wounds but with so many brothers and sisters it was hard to hide from them all.
My step-sister was the first to notice and by this time she had completely stopped self harming and proceeded to lecture me on how it was bullshit and I had to stop. I was beginning to understand what had happened to me as a child and what had been taken from me. I was dying to tell someone but at the same time I didn’t want anyone to know the source of my shame.
Still I kept my promise for a little while,I changed up and stopped cutting on my arms and went to my legs. This meant more surface area and it was easier to hide because I never wore shorts. My step sister had movied so I didn’t have that to worry about anymore and I got extreme with it. What had started with scrapes on my wrist was now too many cuts to count, some deep some shallow all hidden by my clothes like the abuse was hidden by a smile.
I was now completely sure why I was doing this to myself. I wanted the pain on the outside to match the pain on the inside, I wanted my body to be as scarred as I considered my mind to be. I remember thinking about how these wounds will heal and stop bleeding and how I believed the wound created by CSA would never stop bleeding.
One day I slept in my boxers due to the heat, and one of my step brothers (Chris) came in my room and saw my legs. I opened up to my brother because unlike my sister who said I shouldn’t be doing it, my brother tried to understand why I was doing it. I didn’t tell him about the abuse at this time though I wanted to, but I was afraid and he was younger than me so I didn’t think he would understand.
I did tell him that I hated myself and that this made me feel better, I told him I enjoyed the pain and it took my mind off other things. He told me “next time you feel like doing that come talk to me.” I got to drinking with my other brother (Scott) one night and once he passed out I kinda broke down.
Alcohol is a natural depressant for me and I wanted to get to my room and cut but I had to go by Chris’s, he was up listening to Crossfade. I decided I didn’t need to be alone so I joined my brother, I was intoxicated and depressed and afraid but for the first time in a long time I didn’t feel alone.
I would talk and drop small hints but not come right out and say it. Chris was kind and didn’t press for more info and he listened more than he talked. One of the songs on that crossfade album was called “So far away” when that song came on and I heard those lyrics I could not hold back the tears. For a few minutes it was a silent cry but then I spoke and I told my story to another person for the first time and my brother was understanding and he said two words that I will never forget, “Me Too” .
I had my brother to talk to now and I had started writing in the place of cutting. I wrote a lot of poetry and was cutting as often. Time went on and I moved in with my girlfriend, I didn’t cut when I was with her and I was happy. I was with her for 4 years and I had told her about the abuse but I never gave her the exact extent of the abuse. The abuse lasted into my late teens, I told her the truth of how long it lasted and two days later she left me.
This devastated me and I punished myself for telling her my truth. My cuts were now words like Hate, Fear, Death, Forsaken and Worthless. I got a pubic intoxication charge and went to jail, I had words cut into all parts of my body as the cops were watching me change to jail clothes they said “uh oh he’s a mutilator.” They would not let me go to general population with the cuts so they put me on suicide watch,which meant I had to change from jail clothes to a paper gown.
So there I was basicly naked in a tiny cell with open wounds everywhere. I got out of jail 16 hours later. From jail I had to go to the hospital and I ended up with 75 infected cut on my legs and staph in my elbow. The doctors also used the words mutilator and mutilation.
After that I used any outlet to avoid cutting, writing was always good but I found physical activity like running could give me the same feeling without the infection risk. Now I rarely cut but I still self harm at times. As long as I take my meds I’m fine, when I don’t take them and get stressed I will hit myself or headbutt things on impulse.
Me being a man doesn’t exempt me from normal human emotions nor self harming. 1 in 4 men self harm -so as you can imagine this is an actual issue that must be dealt with rather than forcing men to cover up and be brave or strong.
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