Dawson’s Blog

Self-Harm – Defining the Problem

The point of cutting is ultimately to cover over a much deeper emotional pain.

Self-Harm Defined:

Self-harm is a way of coping with overwhelming emotional feelings such as sadness, self-hate, emptiness, or guilt by purposefully inflicting injury on oneself. It is a secretive and incredibly harmful addiction. It can take on many different forms such as cutting or burning of skin. And it is destroying too many lives.

This is why Samantha says she cuts: Every time I cut, everything that I feel is GONE! This fall it will be three years that I have been addicted. And I can’t help it. I can’t go over two days without it. It is what brings me up so I don’t have to feel emotional pain, because I’ve learned physical pain is nothing compared to emotional.

Physical pain is nothing compared to emotional pain. Click To Tweet

And Christina said, “I know a girl that started cutting a couple years ago. She was doing it because of some family problems, so I started doing it too, not because of what they said but because it’s the only way for me to help myself deal with all of the feelings I hold inside.”

For those who struggle with painful, emotional issues, self-injury is a way to release their internal suffering and deal with feelings that are not easy for them to express. It is a way for them to feel in control. Since they can’t control their emotional pain, they control their physical pain through cutting, etc. People who self-harm are not trying to kill themselves; they are trying to cope.


Related Posts:
A Door of Hope
Why Do People Self-Harm?
Real Story: Artist Michaela Hatfield
How To Quit Cutting


Listen to what Cassandra had to say when she called into my radio show.

  1. Cassandra


Self-Harm Statistics

  • Each year one in five females and one in seven males engage in self-harm.
  • 90% of people who engage in self-harm begin in their teen or pre-teen years.
  • Nearly 50% of those who engage in self-harm have been sexually abused.

Exact numbers of people who cut are difficult to come by, since most cutters conceal their addiction and injuries. Yet rates of cutting are much higher among younger people, with the average age starting around 12-years-old.

Common Forms of Self-Harm

  • Cutting or severely scratching skin
  • Carving words or symbols into skin
  • Burning or scalding skin
  • Biting
  • Sticking objects into your skin
  • Pulling hair out
  • Swallowing poisonous substances or objects

struggling with self-harmFacts, figures, and definitions are all fine. But if you are a cutter, you know the agony can not be described in numbers or words. You may be cutting and not even know why. And now that you’ve started, it is hard to stop. Your brain has connected the false sense of relief with cutting, and the addictive cycle begins. You self-harm¦you feel guilty about it¦you don’t know how to deal with your guilt¦so you self-harm.

If you are self-harming, I am here to tell you there is hope for you!

With a little help, you CAN stop the addiction and you are not alone.

For more help if you are struggling with self-harm, check out TheHopeLine’s free eBook.

Dawson McAllister Dawson McAllister (born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania) is an American speaker, radio host, and author. He is the founder of Dawson McAllister Association and TheHopeLine and host of the national radio program Dawson McAllister Live, which is aired on Sunday nights. Dawson has been speaking to and in support of teenagers and young adults for over 40 years.
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  • antwonette

    This helped me out a great deal, thank you got posting. I’ve been a cutter on and off. It all started my Senior year in high school I was just going thru a lot and I didn’t know how to handle things. I started cutting because of the things I was going thru. I even saw a movie called Painful Secrets, and that’s what really triggered me because I could relate to some of Dawns problems. I am now 22 years old and I cut more than ever now. I hide it easily, well obviously not my arm but my thighs I cover them at all times. I’ve never told my family because they were the reason I started cutting. I really want to stop but I’m not sure where I go from here, it’s a fulfilling addiction but yet so harmful and dangerous.

  • Luke, I am glad you are reaching out for help. Talking about it with someone who cares and understands is really important. Our HopeCoaches are available 24/7 to chat with you online – they truly understand http://www.thehopeline.com/gethelp/ Check out this video of someone who was helped by one of our HopeCoaches https://youtu.be/JBVezZV60ng

  • Here at TheHopeLine® we understand. Some of our HopeCoaches have been through similar struggles, but have found hope. You can chat with a HopeCoach anytime 24/7. We are here for you. http://www.thehopeline.com/gethelp/