Oct 10, 2011

Self-Harm – an unreported epidemic

 In 2009 (the last year when statistics are available) in the UK, over 70,000 people attended A & E clinics for treatment for self-inflicted injuries.  That figure does not take into account those, who were treated by GP’s or those who failed to seek help.

In nearly 80% of cases the root cause of self-mutilation can be traced back to sexual abuse but self-harm or self-mutilation is not confined to “cutting” or “slashing”.  It also manifests itself in other forms; promiscuity, drug abuse and unnecessary risk taking.

“Whistle Blowers” is conducting a case study of a 24 year old female, who, since she was fourteen years old, “for her own protection,” has been incarcerated in a UK Mental Hospital.  A year ago, nine years after she was first admitted to hospital, she decided to speak out and tell her psychiatrist, psychologists and counsellors why she continued to cut herself – from the age of 10 years, until she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital, her father, a health care professional, had repeatedly sexually abused her, raped her and buggered her. 

Claire, as we shall call her (not her real name) provided compelling (and forensic) evidence to support her claim but only spoke out because her father, then aged 60, had left her mother for a 17 year old.  As her mother explained the circumstances of her husband’s infidelity to Claire, Claire noted her father had treated her in very much the same way as he was treating the 17 year old – in an effort to protect her father’s new victim, Claire revealed the truth.

Since making the revelations, Claire is making a slow but steady recovery – she has lost her teenage years and will forever have mental health difficulties haunting the shadows of her mind; with support, Claire will regain her life but in the meantime she has asked “Whistle Blowers” to help others in a similar situation.

Claire’s ordeal did not end with her incarceration – she became a cocaine addict, was repeatedly gang raped, was repeatedly beaten to the extent she was unrecognisable and finally, when she was returned to a secure hospital, she was repeatedly sexually abused by a male nurse.

Claire’s family have commissioned, “Whistle Blowers” to write a book, “not to help Claire but to help others, who do not have or who cannot, find a voice.”

Although only the first few chapters of the book have been completed and the narrative already makes compelling reading, the authors have decided to “punctuate” Claire’s story with other case studies, “to get this catastrophe out in the open”.

If you have self-harmed, if you are the relative or friend of someone who has self-harmed, if you need to speak out or if you have any anecdotal information, please contact us – there are at least 70,000 people who need our help!


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