Addressing Self-Harm Wrist Scars: What Not to Do
This post is not necessarily about wrist scars, as self-harm can come in many forms. This is just a reflection on my personal experiences with self-injury in the wrist and forearm area, as that's where I used to hurt myself. I feel most people react to scars similarly, especially if their reaction comes from ignorance or fear rather than love. Therefore, this post might be helpful if you know someone who self-harms and you wonder how to behave around them.
My Experience with Wrist Scars from Self-Harm
Firstly, let me stress that my intention was never to hurt myself in a way that would endanger my life. This is a common misconception that people have when seeing wrist scars in particular. For me, this was just the most immediate surface on my skin where I could (negatively) express the turmoil that was going on inside me. And trust me, I regretted my actions as soon as I came back from my odd out-of-body experience. If someone you care about self-harms, don't shame them or make them feel even worse about what they've done.
No matter how much I tried to disguise my scars, there were times when they would be noticeable. For instance, when it was too hot to wear long sleeves or heavy jewelry, or on occasions when covering certain parts of my body wouldn't make sense (on a beach, during sports, or even at home with my family). Usually, I encountered three types of reactions:
- Disgust: The person who noticed my scars would look at me as if I was a criminal, change their attitude towards me, or even stop talking to me altogether.
- Ridicule: People who fall into this category would make jokes about my scars, embarrass me in front of others, or belittle my mental health.
- Ignorance: This type of reaction encompasses all sorts of cliche assumptions people have about self-harm, such as belonging to a particular alternative subculture (goth, emo, punk, and so on) or being a teenager. Such comments don't help and are often far from the truth.
Sadly, I never came across a person who would notice my scars and simply ask if I was okay. Sometimes the most straightforward act of kindness can change a person's day or even entire life. Many self-harmers feel like there's no one they could talk to or that they don't deserve help. Approaching them lovingly, without judgment or assumptions, or even just offering to listen without any advice, is often the best way to help.
What Not to Say to a Self-Harmer with Wrist Scars
I understand that sometimes people can say silly things because they feel uncomfortable and don't know what else to say. After all, they may not know much about self-harm. Well, that's why we're here. In this video, I'll tell you about some of the silliest comments I experienced about my self-harm scars and which you should definitely avoid saying out loud.
How did people react to your self-harm wrist scars (or any other scars)? What do you wish they would say instead? Let me know in the comments.
Halas, M. (2021, July 26). Addressing Self-Harm Wrist Scars: What Not to Do, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/7/addressing-self-harm-wrist-scars-what-not-to-do
Author: Martyna Halas
I have a different self-harm reaction. It leaves no scars, but leaves a residue on health. As I drift off, I twist my finger or more often, a wrist. A brief dose of pain brings me back to the ground. However, I have worn the wrist-brace several times for this reason.
Approach lovingly and without judgement or harm -- how true this is for so many things. Self-harm scars are something that many people can be unsure or uneasy about when they first notice them. Conversations like these are what can help more people realize what to say and not to say, and how simply being kind and compassionate can truly make such a difference. Thank you for sharing this.