The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Teacher Lesson Return to "Cutting Myself Seemed Like An Escape"
Cutting Myself Seemed Like An Escape
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Christine M. looks at how she began to cut herself to relieve intolerable feelings of emotional pain due to an abused childhood. With the help of therapy and a caring adult, she begins to understand the feelings behind the impulse, and she finds more positive ways to deal with her emotions.

Prompts for discussion and/or writing:

--As a child, Christine felt that everything she did or felt was tied into other people’s moods. She wasn’t allowed to express her true feelings. What impact did this have on her? Were you, as a child, able to express your true feelings? If not, how did that affect you?

--What positive things does Christine get from cutting herself? How is cutting also a negative thing for her?

--For a long time, cutting gives Christine a sense of control. But then she begins to feel that the habit is out of control. What’s the difference between a habit giving you a sense of control, and feeling out of control? Did you ever have an experience similar to Christine’s, where a habit went from giving you a sense of control, to feeling out of control?

--To survive the abuse of her childhood, Christine learned to mentally separate from her body. How did that affect her, as she grew older?

--When Chris, the staff member, says to Christine, “You must be in so much pain inside to do this to yourself,” she is stunned, because no one had ever said something like that to her. Why does that statement affect Christine so much? Has anyone ever had a big impact on you, by saying something like that? What did the person say, and why did it have such a big impact?

--Instead of blaming herself for cutting, Christine tries to understand the feelings behind why she does it. What has she learned about her feelings? How does understanding her feelings give her better control over them? How does she try to express her feelings in a healthier way?

--Why does the idea of completely giving up cutting frighten Christine?

--Writing: Christine cuts herself because it is one of the few ways she feels comfortable expressing and escaping the pain she holds inside. In what ways do you feel comfortable expressing your pain? Do you think you express your pain in a healthy way? Why or why not?
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(FCYU-2003-01-05)

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