Male Survivors

Male Survivors
  • Try to take care of the basics of physical health; eating, sleeping, taking exercise. This may be difficult if you’re feeling down but it’s important to do so you can move away from harming yourself towards looking after yourself. (If sleep is a problem see, ‘Coping with Sleep Difficulties.’)
  • Explore ways of caring and nurturing your body. You could have regular physical treats such as:
    • hot baths with oils
    • your favourite foods
    • a day at a health suite
  • The issue of touch is important. As a boy you may not have had control over who touched your body. Now you can say who is allowed to touch you and where. This goes for both intimate and casual touch. Take some time to consider what touch you want and what touch you don’t want. Then tell those around you what you expect.
  • If you’re in a pattern of cutting, burning, or harming your body try to identify when it occurs. Do certain triggers seem to make you do it? Does it occur at particular times of the day? After you’ve been doing certain things? How are you feeling before it happens? If you can identify when you’re likely to harm yourself you may be able to come up with a plan to avoid it, like doing some relaxation, or hitting the punch bag. Your plan could include contacting someone from your Support Team and sharing how you’re feeling with them. The idea is to find ways of expressing and coping with the way you feel inside without harming yourself.
  • If you continue to do it despite your best efforts, try not to criticise yourself. Self-criticism is just another way of hurting yourself! If you feel trapped in a pattern it can be very difficult to get out. Try to look after your body after you’ve hurt yourself. If you’ve burnt yourself use cold water to lessen the damage to your skin. If you’ve cut yourself gently clean and dress the wound. See if a member of your Support Team is prepared to help you look after your burns/wounds. They’ll need to know that you’re not to be criticised for what you’ve done – you coped as best you could with the feelings you have inside.
  • If you cut or burn yourself you may consider going to Casualty. If it’s a deep cut which needs stitching you may need to go. Casualty staff have not always been supportive or understanding of people who harm themselves. Survivors have reported being stitched with inadequate anaesthetic or not being given pain relief. There are some excellent staff as well. If you go to Casualty always try to take someone with you – a member of your Support Team – who’ll help you argue for your rights. You deserve good medical care.
  • If you’re finding it hard to control the way you’re cutting/burning/harming yourself you could consider carrying a first aid kit. This might consist of plasters, bandages, butterfly stitches, antiseptic ointment, cotton wool – things you can buy at a chemist. Survivors who feel they cannot stop cutting themselves have even carried a sterile blade so they can reduce the risk of further harm from infected cuts. This might not seem like looking after your body, but self-harm can be a difficult pattern to break, and it may be the only way some Survivors have learnt to cope with distress. Whilst you’re tackling the difficult task of learning new ways you may as well minimise the damage your body suffers.