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Twenty Years Later #YesAllWomen

I'm going to preface this with a trigger warning for discussion of rape and self-harm. I don't want anyone reading this to be triggered, but I am going to talk about the high cost of rape culture, and its lingering effects.

I've been nudged to talk about my personal issues with depression and self-harm publicly.  I want you gentle readers to understand that I'm not looking for validation in regards to self-harm behaviors. I also want to state explicitly that I am not currently in any danger. This entry comes from a discussion with a friend who talked about it in confidence, and who said to me that it was comforting in a way to know that I'd gone through the same issues, and how often self-harm is shamed into silence, where it festers.

My first self-harm behaviors came directly from my rape. "Nearly 50 percent of those who engage in self injury activities have been sexually abused," (Gluck). There was a definite satisfaction in tearing at the flesh that I considered soiled and painful to wear. Twenty years later, I still have twinges. It doesn't matter that I'm a parent. It doesn't matter that I have degrees and am accomplished in my field. It's a cliche that self-harm is limited to teenage girls who want attention, but that's bullshit. Lots of people who have their shit together still struggle with it. Self-harm does not negate your self-worth or your ability to pursue your goals and dreams.

It's been seven years since I self-harmed. And some days, it's an incredible act of will not to do it again. I don't have the urge often - I have learned better coping skills over the years, but it never entirely goes away.  If you are someone who engages in self-harm, please reach out to someone you trust. Please don't try to deal with this alone. You're not a bad person if this is how you cope, so don't blame yourself . Learning more effective, safer coping methods is a process, and you don't need to judge yourself for not knowing how to enact those, particularly in a heightened state of emotion, because it's hard to be rational when emotions run high. Please consider getting together a kit or care plan for when the urge strikes. If you need ideas, this blog has resources for recovery.

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Lokean nun, writer, swamp witch. Heather is a Pagan monastic, writer, editor, and mother. She has written and edited for a variety of publications and social media, including science journals, romance novels, and technology blogs. She also holds degrees in education and speech-language pathology, and has a passion for historical linguistics.


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