Self- Harm & Trauma

What is self-harm?

Taken from  the U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs  which is found  HERE.

Self-harm refers to a person harming his/her own body on purpose. Other terms for self-harm are “self-abuse” or “cutting.” Overall, a person who self-harms does not mean to kill himself or herself.

Self-harm tends to begin in teen or early adult years. Some people may engage in self-harm a few times and then stop. Others engage in it more often and have trouble stopping the behavior. Self-harm is related to trauma in that those who self-harm are likely to have been abused in childhood.

How common is self-harm?

The rates of self-harm vary widely, depending on how researchers pose their questions about it. It is estimated that in the general public, 2% to 6% engage in self-harm at some point in their lives. Among students, the rates are higher, ranging from 13% to 35%.

Rates of self-harm are also higher among those in treatment for mental health problems. Those in treatment who have a diagnosis of PTSD are more likely to engage in self-harm than those without PTSD.

What are self-harmers like?

Self-harmers, as compared to others, have more frequent and more negative feelings such as fear or worry, depression, and aggressive impulses. Links have also been found between self-harm and feeling numb or feeling as if you’re outside your body. Often those who self-harm have low self-esteem, and they do not tend to express their feelings. The research is not clear on whether self-harm is more common in women or men.

Those who self-harm appear to have higher rates of PTSD and other mental health problems. Self-harm is most often related to going through trauma in childhood rather than as an adult. Those who self-harm have high rates of:

  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Emotional neglect
  • Bonds with caregivers that are not stable or secure
  • Long separations from caregivers

Those who self-harm very often have a history of childhood sexual abuse. For example, in one group of self-harmers, 93% said they had been sexually abused in childhood. Some research has looked at whether certain aspects of childhood sexual abuse increase the risk that survivors will engage in self-harm as adults. The findings show that more severe, more frequent, or longer-lasting sexual abuse is linked to an increased risk of engaging in self-harm in one’s adult years.

Why do people engage in self-harm?

While many ideas have been offered, the answer to this question may vary from person to person. The reasons that are most often given are “To distract yourself from painful feelings” and “To punish yourself.” Research on the reasons for self-harm suggests that people engage in self harm to:

  • Decrease symptoms of feeling numb or as if you are outside your body or yourself
  • Reduce stress and tension
  • Block upsetting memories and flashbacks
  • Show a need for help
  • Ensure that you will be safe and protected
  • Express and release distress
  • Reduce anger
  • Punish self
  • Hurt self instead of others

How is self-harm treated?

Self-harm is a problem that many people are embarrassed or ashamed to discuss. Often, they try to hide their self-harm behaviors. They may hold back from getting mental health or even medical treatment.

Self-harm is often seen with other mental health problems like PTSD or substance abuse. For this reason, it does not tend to be treated separately from the other mental health problems. Some research suggests, though, that adding in a round of therapy focused just on the self-harming behavior may result in less self-harming.

There have not yet been strong studies on using medicine to treat self-harm behaviors. For this reason, experts have not reached agreement on whether medicines should be used to treat self-harm behaviors.

Sources

This fact sheet is based on a more detailed version, located in the “Professional” section of our website:Self-Harm and Trauma: Research Findings

 

Antidepressants & Self Harm

Taken from  the  Los Angeles Times   which can be found    HERE.

About a decade after the Food and Drug Administration first warned that antidepressant medications increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, new research has found that kids and young adults starting on high doses of antidepressants are at especially high risk, especially in the first three months of treatment.

Among patients 24 and younger, those who started treatment for depression or anxiety with a higher-than-usual dose of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) were more than twice as likely to harm themselves intentionally than those whose treatment began at the customary dose and increased slowly, the study found.

For every 150 such patients treated with high initial doses of SSRIs — antidepressants marketed under such commercial names as Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, Celexa and Lexapro — the study suggests one additional suicide would be attempted. By contrast, young patients starting SSRI therapy at doses considered customary were at only slightly elevated risk of self-harm, about 12% above the level of their depressed peers not taking medication.

The latest research on depression treatment, conducted by epidemiologists at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, was published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The researchers found no increased risk of suicidal behavior among adults older than 24 who started medical treatment for depression or anxiety at larger initial doses.

About 18% of young people diagnosed with depression were prescribed an initial antidepressant dose that was higher than that recommended by clinical guidelines: For the antidepressant fluoxetine (better known by its commercial name, Prozac), for instance, a standard dose would be 10 milligrams daily for the first week, increasing to 20 milligrams for the next three weeks, and only then considering any increased dose.

Given that antidepressants appear to be less effective in young people than in older patients, and that higher doses do not appear to bring more or faster relief, the author of an invited commentary in JAMA Internal Medicine suggested that prescribing physicians should abide by the well-worn maxim “start low, go slow,” and monitor patients closely during their first several months of treatment.

The study used medical records to track 162,625 U.S. residents, ages 10 to 64, who were diagnosed with depression and prescribed SSRI between 1998 and 2010. It found that more than half of antidepressants in that period were prescribed by primary care doctors, and about an additional quarter by practitioners not specialized in mental health. Even in children, fewer than 30% of antidepressant prescriptions were issued by psychiatrists.

The authors acknowledged that they could not discern why younger patients on high initial doses of antidepressant were more likely to try to harm themselves. Although it could have been the dose at which these young patients began their therapy, it is equally plausible that younger patients who are correctly perceived to be in a mental health crisis are more likely to be treated more aggressively, but not more likely to get better with SSRIs.

It might also be that those started on high-dose SSRIs are more likely to discontinue their therapy and to suffer from “discontinuation syndrome,” which can bring physical symptoms of anxiety and is sometimes linked to unpredictable behavior.

Mike Ehrmantrout: Men Self-Harm Too. Here’s My Story Of Self-Harm

 

A secret is usually not healthy. But keeping a secret about your self-harm can be downright deadly. Today’s the day I tell my story of self-harm.

A Safety Pin Isn’t Always Safe

When I was 9 years old, I accompanied my single mom to the supermarket. After doing our shopping, we started toward the car with our groceries. My mom opened the trunk and we put the sacks inside. When she closed the trunk, all hell broke loose.

Somehow, I’d gotten my right thumb caught in the trunk lid as it slammed down. The pain was unbearable and, of course, I began to scream bloody murder as my mom frantically tried to find the key. When she finally opened the trunk, obviously my thumb was somewhat mutilated. It might have even been severed, but there was an air pocket between the edge of the trunk lid and the car body that somehow kept my thumb from being cut off.

Click   HERE  to complete this article.

Self-Injury/Cutting: Part 2

 

Taken from the  Mayo Clinic  which is located   HERE.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Your first appointment may be with your family doctor, another primary care doctor, a school nurse or a counselor. But because self-injury often requires specialized mental health care, you may be referred to a mental health provider for evaluation and treatment.

What you can do
To help prepare for your appointment:

  • Make a list of symptoms you’ve had, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment.
  • Note your key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins, herbs or supplements that you’re taking.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible, for support and to help you remember information.
  • Be ready to provide accurate, thorough and honest information about your situation and your self-injuring behavior.

Prepare a list of questions to make the most of your time with your doctor. Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What treatments are available? Which do you recommend for me?
  • What side effects are possible with that treatment?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you’re suggesting?
  • Are there medications that might help? Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you’re prescribing?
  • What should I do if I have an urge to self-injure between therapy sessions?
  • What else can I do to help myself?
  • How can I (or those around me) recognize that things may be getting worse?
  • Can you suggest any resources that would help me learn more about my condition and its treatment?

Don’t hesitate to ask questions any time you don’t understand something.

What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions about your self-injuring and emotional state, such as:

  • When did you first begin harming yourself?
  • What methods do you use to harm yourself?
  • How often do you cut or injure yourself in other ways?
  • What feelings and thoughts do you have before, during and after self-injury?
  • What seems to trigger your self-injury?
  • What makes you feel better or worse?
  • Do you have social networks or relationships?
  • What emotional issues are you facing?
  • How do you feel about your future?
  • Have you had previous treatment for self-injury?
  • Do you have suicidal thoughts when you’re feeling down?
  • Do you drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or use street drugs?

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Although some people may ask for help, sometimes self-injury is discovered by family members or friends. Or a doctor doing a routine medical exam may notice signs, such as scars or fresh injuries.

There’s no specific diagnostic test for self-injury. Diagnosis is based on a physical and mental evaluation. A diagnosis may require evaluation by a mental health provider with experience in treating self-injury. A mental health provider may also evaluate you for other mental illnesses that may be linked to self-injury, such as depression or personality disorders. If that’s the case, evaluation may include additional tools, such as questionnaires or psychological tests.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

There’s no one best way to treat self-injuring behavior, but the first step is to tell someone so you can get help. Treatment is based on your specific issues and any related mental health conditions you might have, such as depression.

Treating self-injury behavior can take time, hard work and your own desire to recover. Because self-injury can become a major part of your life and it’s often accompanied by mental disorders, you may need treatment from a mental health professional experienced in self-injury issues.

There are several treatment options for self-injuring behavior.

Psychotherapy
Known as talk therapy or counseling, psychotherapy can help you identify and manage underlying issues that trigger self-injuring behavior. Therapy can also help you learn skills to better manage distress, help regulate your impulsiveness and other emotions, boost your self-image, better your relationships, and improve your problem-solving skills.

Several types of individual psychotherapy may be helpful, such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you identify unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy, a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches behavioral skills to help you tolerate distress, manage or regulate your emotions, and improve your relationships with others.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy, which focuses on identifying past experiences, hidden memories or interpersonal issues at the root of your emotional difficulties through self-examination guided by a therapist.
  • Mindfulness-based therapies, which help you live in the present, appropriately perceive the thoughts and actions of those around you to reduce your anxiety and depression, and improve your general well-being.

In addition to individual therapy sessions, family therapy or group therapy also may be recommended.

Medications
There are no medications that specifically treat self-injuring behavior. However, your doctor may recommend treatment with antidepressants or other psychiatric medications to help treat depression, anxiety or other mental disorders commonly associated with self-injury. Treatment for these disorders may help you feel less compelled to hurt yourself.

Psychiatric hospitalization
If you injure yourself severely or repeatedly, your doctor may recommend that you be admitted to a hospital for psychiatric care. Hospitalization, often short term, can provide a safe environment and more intensive treatment until you get through a crisis. Day treatment programs also may be an option.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

You can do some things for yourself that will build on your treatment plan. In addition to professional treatment, follow these self-care tips:

  • Stick to your treatment plan, including keeping psychotherapy appointments and taking prescribed medications as directed.
  • Keep your doctor or mental health care provider’s phone number handy, and tell him or her about all incidents related to self-injury.
  • Appoint a trusted family member or friend as the person you’ll immediately contact if you have an urge to self-injure or if self-injuring behavior recurs.
  • Take appropriate care of your wounds if you do injure yourself or seek medical treatment if needed — call your relative or friend for help and support.
  • Don’t share instruments used for self-injury, which raises the risk of infectious disease.
  • Ask your doctor for advice if you have sleep problems, which can significantly affect your behavior.
  • Learn how to include physical activity and relaxation exercises as a regular part of your daily routine.

COPING AND SUPPORT

If you or a loved one needs help in coping, consider the tips below. If there’s a focus on thoughts of suicide, you or your loved one can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24-hour crisis line at 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK).

Coping tips if you self-injure

  • Recognize the situations or feelings that might trigger your desire to self-injure. Make a plan for other ways to soothe, distract or get support for yourself so you’re ready the next time you feel that urge.
  • Connect with others who can support you so that you don’t feel alone. For example, reach out to a family member or friend, contact a support group or get in touch with your doctor.
  • Learn to express your emotions in positive ways. For example, to help balance your emotions and improve your sense of well-being, become more physically active, practice relaxation techniques, or participate in dance, art or music.
  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. They affect your ability to make good decisions and can put you at risk of self-injuring.
  • Avoid websites that support or glamorize self-injury. Instead, seek out sites that support your recovery efforts.

Coping tips if your loved one self-injures

  • Get informed. Learning more about self-injury can help you understand why it occurs and help you develop a compassionate but firm approach to helping your loved one stop this harmful behavior.
  • Try not to judge or criticize. Criticism, yelling, threats or accusations may increase the risk of self-injuring behavior.
  • Let your loved one know you care no matter what. Remind the person that he or she is not alone and that you are available to talk. Recognize that you may not change the behavior, but you can help the person find resources, identify coping mechanisms and offer support during treatment.
  • Share coping strategy ideas. Your loved one may benefit from hearing strategies you use when feeling distressed. You can also serve as a role model by using appropriate coping strategies.
  • Find support. Consider talking to other people who’ve gone through the same thing you’re going through. Share your own experiences with trusted family members or friends and keep in close touch with the professional taking care of your loved one. Ask your friend or loved one’s doctor or therapist if there are any local support groups for parents, family members or friends of people who self-injure.
  • Take care of yourself, too. Take some time to do the things you enjoy doing, and get adequate rest and physical activity.

PREVENTION

There is no sure way to prevent your loved one’s self-injuring behavior. But reducing the risk of self-injury may include strategies that involve both individuals and communities — for example, parents, schools, medical professionals, supervisors, co-workers and coaches:

  • Identify people most at risk and offer help. For instance, those at risk can be taught resilience and healthy coping skills that they can then draw on during periods of distress.
  • Encourage expansion of social networks. Many people who self-injure feel lonely and disconnected. Forming connections to people who don’t self-injure can improve relationship and communication skills.
  • Raise awareness. Adults, especially those who work with children, should be educated about the warning signs of self-injury and what to do when they suspect it. Documentaries, multimedia-based educational programs and group discussions are helpful strategies.
  • Promote programs that encourage peers to seek help. Peers tend to be loyal to friends even when they know a friend is in crisis. Programs that encourage youths to reach out to adults may chip away at social norms supporting secrecy.
  • Offer education about media influence. News media, music and other highly visible outlets that feature self-injury may nudge vulnerable children and young adults to experiment. Teaching children critical thinking skills about the influences around them might reduce the harmful impact.

Self-Injury/Cutting: Part 1

Taken from the Mayo Clinic  which is located   HERE.

DEFINITION

Self-injury, also called self-harm, is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. It’s typically not meant as a suicide attempt. Rather, self-injury is an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration.

While self-injury may bring a momentary sense of calm and a release of tension, it’s usually followed by guilt and shame and the return of painful emotions. And with self-injury comes the possibility of more serious and even fatal self-aggressive actions.

Because self-injury is often done impulsively, it can be considered an impulse-control behavior problem. Self-injury may be linked to a variety of mental disorders, such as depression, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder.

SYMPTOMS

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Scars, such as from burns or cuts
  • Fresh cuts, scratches, bruises or other wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Keeping sharp objects on hand
  • Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather
  • Claiming to have frequent accidents or mishaps
  • Spending a great deal of time alone
  • Pervasive difficulties in interpersonal relationships
  • Persistent questions about personal identity, such as “Who am I?” “What am I doing here?”
  • Behavioral and emotional instability, impulsivity and unpredictability
  • Statements of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness

Forms of self-injury
One of the most common forms of self-injury is cutting, which involves making cuts or severe scratches on different parts of your body with a sharp object. Other forms of self-harm include:

  • Burning (with lit matches, cigarettes or hot sharp objects like knives)
  • Carving words or symbols on the skin
  • Breaking bones
  • Hitting or punching
  • Piercing the skin with sharp objects
  • Head banging
  • Biting
  • Pulling out hair
  • Persistently picking at or interfering with wound healing

Most frequently, the arms, legs and front of the torso are the targets of self-injury because these areas can be easily reached and easily hidden under clothing. But any area of the body may be used for self-injury. People who self-injure may use more than one method to harm themselves.

Because self-injury is often an impulsive act, becoming upset can trigger an urge to self-injure. Many people self-injure only a few times and then stop. However, for others, self-injury can become a long-term, repetitive behavior.

Although rare, some young people may self-injure in public or in groups to bond or to show others that they have experienced pain.

When to see a doctor
Getting appropriate treatment can help you learn healthier ways to cope.

  • Reach out for help. If you’re injuring yourself, even in a minor way, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, reach out for help. Any form of self-injury is a sign of bigger issues that need to be addressed. Talk to someone you trust — such as a friend, loved one, health care provider, religious leader or a school official — who can help you take the first steps to successful treatment. While you may feel ashamed and embarrassed about your behavior, you can find supportive, caring and nonjudgmental help.
  • Emergency help. If you’ve injured yourself severely or believe your injury may be life-threatening, call 911 or your local emergency services provider.

When a friend or loved one self-injures
If you have a friend or loved one who is self-injuring, you may be shocked and scared. Take all talk of self-injury seriously. Although you might feel that you’d be betraying a confidence, self-injury is too big a problem to ignore or to deal with alone. Here are some options for help.

  • Your child. You can start by consulting your pediatrician or family doctor who can provide an initial evaluation or a referral to a mental health specialist. Don’t yell at your child or make threats or accusations, but do express concern.
  • Teenage friend. Suggest that your friend talk to parents, a teacher, a school counselor or another trusted adult.
  • Adult. Gently encourage the person to seek medical and psychological treatment.

CAUSES

There’s no one single or simple cause that leads someone to self-injure. In general, self-injury is usually the result of an inability to cope in healthy ways with psychological pain related to issues of personal identity and having difficulty “finding one’s place” in family and society. The person has a hard time regulating, expressing or understanding emotions. The mix of emotions that triggers self-injury is complex. For instance, there may be feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, panic, anger, guilt, rejection, self-hatred or confused sexuality.

Through self-injury, the person may be trying to:

  • Manage or reduce severe distress or anxiety and provide a sense of relief
  • Provide a distraction from painful emotions through physical pain
  • Feel a sense of control over his or her body, feelings or life situations
  • Feel something, anything, even if it’s physical pain, when feeling emotionally empty
  • Express internal feelings in an external way
  • Communicate depression or distressful feelings to the outside world
  • Be punished for perceived faults

RISK FACTORS

Certain factors may increase the risk of self-injury, including:

  • Being female. Females are at greater risk of self-injuring than males are.
  • Age. Most people who self-injure are teenagers and young adults, although those in other age groups also self-injure. Self-injury often starts in the early teen years, when emotions are more volatile and teens face increasing peer pressure, loneliness, and conflicts with parents or other authority figures.
  • Having friends who self-injure. People who have friends who intentionally harm themselves are more likely to begin self-injuring.
  • Life issues. Some people who injure themselves were neglected, or sexually, physically or emotionally abused, or experienced other traumatic events. They may have grown up and still remain in an unstable family environment, or they may be young people questioning their personal identity or sexuality.
  • Mental health issues. People who self-injure are more likely to be impulsive, explosive and highly self-critical, and be poor problem-solvers. In addition, self-injury is commonly associated with certain mental disorders, such as borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders.
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use. People who harm themselves often do so while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

COMPLICATIONS

Self-injury can cause a variety of complications, including:

  • Worsening feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem
  • Infection, either from wounds or from sharing tools
  • Life-threatening problems, such as blood loss if major blood vessels or arteries are cut
  • Permanent scars or disfigurement
  • Severe, possibly fatal injury, especially if you harm yourself while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Worsening of underlying issues and disorders, if not adequately treated

Suicide risk
Although self-injury is not usually a suicide attempt, it can increase the risk of suicide because of the emotional problems that trigger self-injuring. And the pattern of damaging the body in times of distress can make suicide more likely.

If you, your friend or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts or is in emotional distress, get help right away. Take all talk of suicide seriously. Here are some options:

  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.
  • Seek help from your doctor, a mental health provider or other health care professional.
  • Reach out to family members, friends, teachers or spiritual leaders for support.

If you think your friend or loved one is in immediate danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with him or her. Call for emergency help or take the person to the hospital, if you can safely do so. If possible, take away any tools used for self-injury.

 

Lesson In Self-Harming: U.K. School Supervised Vulnerable Pupil As She Slashed Herself With Razors

Taken from   the  Mirror News   which is located   HERE.

A vulnerable pupil prone to self-harming was allowed to slash herself with razors while supervised by a teacher.

Staff gave the youngster sterilised blades and took her to a bathroom where she could carry out the ­mutilation in a “safe and controlled manner” before her wounds were cleaned and dressed.

But the policy was ditched after just a few days following an outcry by workers at the special school for pupils with Asperger’s and autism.

Principal Steve Dempsey and headteacher Laura Blair are being investigated by the Teaching Agency over allegations of unacceptable professional conduct.

The procedure sparked fury among mental health charities.

Young Minds said: “This policy could be misinterpreted as encouraging young people to self-harm.

“It’s misguided. It does not address the issues young people who  self-harm are grappling with.

“What schools should be doing is providing supportive environments where young people are encouraged to talk about how they feel and helped to get the right support.”

Several members of staff were understood to have protested against the supervised self-harm policy at Unsted Park School in Godalming, Surrey.

Some complained to Surrey county council’s Local Authority Designated Officer.

A spokesman for Priory Group, which runs Unsted, said: “We are always willing to review cases with the Teaching Agency.

“This was a short-term, local ­procedure introduced by the headteacher and school principal who genuinely believed it was in the best interests of the pupil.

“However, they accept it should not have been implemented without further approvals having been obtained from key stakeholders and senior management.”

The policy was launched in January last year but details of the incident involving the youngster have only now been made public.

Senior staff had ordered teachers to give her the razor blades.

According to the directive they were told to then wait outside the bathroom while the pupil was inside, checking on her every two minutes. The school teaches boys and girls aged seven to 19.

The Teaching Agency was unable to comment on the investigation.

The Department for Education said: “This is a deeply worrying allegation.

“The department commissioned an emergency inspection by Ofsted. It found some failings which we are working to rectify.”

U.K.’s Charlie Webster: My Hell Of Child Sex Abuse, Violence And Self Harming

I originally posted this article in 2011.  Allan

Taken from  News Of The World  which no longer exists.

BRAVE Sky Sports News star Charlie Webster has told how her childhood was ruined by horrifying sexual, physical and mental abuse that led her to self-harm.

Charlie endured YEARS of torture – and has decided to speak out to help fellow “child survivors of abuse” move on with their lives.

Now one of the brightest young stars on TV, the former model, 28, said: “I am now ready to let people know what I went through as a child.

“I witnessed and experienced abuse by more than one person. I was very unhappy, confused and lonely. I became a bit like a zombie. Looking back, the mental abuse can take longer to get over.”

At the launch of the Empowering Women Awards with charity Women’s Aid in London last week, Charlie said:

“I’ve always been very quiet about what happened to me because I’ve been scared and felt people would judge me.

“When it happened to me, I did not know where to turn.”

Charlie, who cannot reveal when or how she was abused for legal reasons, is now one of the best-loved presenters on Sky Sports and Sky Sports News and has also worked for ESPN, ITV4 and Channel 4.

I want to show people you can come from anything and make something of yourself even if you are an abuse survivor

It’s been a long, tough journey from her early life as a keen young athlete in Sheffield – where much of her abuse came from a man involved in her sports training. The abuse led to years of self-harm for Charlie. She admitted: “I went through a phase of cutting myself. I’ve still got scars on my wrist.

“I thought I was worthless. I hated myself. You believe what is wrong is your fault.

“But I’ve learnt survival is the most powerful thing ever.”

And Charlie believes there should be no shame in talking about being the victim of abuse. “A lot of people will say: ‘Why didn’t you get out of that situation?’ But if you are abused, bullied every day, made to feel you’re nothing you believe you are nothing.”

In the end, despite the abuse, it was sport that helped turn her life around.

“I saw running as an escape. It helped me get over my issues by giving my confidence back,” said Charlie, who after completing a degree in English, used her background in sport to help her break into the world of TV.

“At first I wanted to be an athlete. I never wanted to be on TV.” Now Charlie plans to use her horrific early experiences to help others who’ve been abused. “It’s swept under the carpet in this country,” she said. “But it goes on a lot.

“I want to show people you can come from anything and make something of yourself even if you are an abuse survivor.”

  • Visit womensaid.org.uk for help and support, and details about the Avon and Women’s Aid Empowering Women Awards 2011.
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