By Ruta Mazelis
Self-inflicted violence (SIV) is a common means of managing the after-effects of traumatic experiences. Intentional physical wounding of the body serves to temporarily manage many of the emotional struggles that stem from historical unhealed trauma. Most people living with self-injury have experienced abuse of some form and have found SIV helpful in dealing with overwhelming feelings, psychic stress, flashbacks and triggers of abuse memories, and other repercussions common to trauma survivors. Once understood in this context, SIV can be healed by acknowledging the needs it serves for the person living with it and by addressing the trauma from which it springs.
"The process of healing SIV can be simply described-it is the process of healing the pain that brought about the need for SIV in the first place….What is at the core of the healing process?" People living with SIV need "intimate connection…with their own historical realities, including the invalidations, abuses, and shaming in their pasts, in the presence of a compassionate person who is there to validate their truth and soothe the pain of awareness and grief. People who confront the roots of their pain, and identify the patterns of survival used to manage it, build a relationship with themselves that is based on dignity and self-compassion." (Ruta Mazelis, "Demystifying Self-Inflicted Violence: Lessons Learned from the Past Dozen Years," The Cutting Edge (Spring 2002):1-3.
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