Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Tragedy of Abuse and Self Abuse

I just spent a great weekend with friends in Dorset. Driving back from dinner on Saturday night I was chatting to our friend's 12 year old daughter about her recent experiences at school.

She has just moved schools having had a series of bad experiences with a group of girls at her previous school - bullying, stealing etc. One of the girls she left to avoid was a relative of a highly notorious child-abusing criminal.

Having arrived at her new school, things are a lot better. She has found a new group of friends in the best school in the area.

But even in the happy new school, all is not well. She started telling me about a girl that she has met who she feels desperately sorry for.

This girl, let's call her 'Child P', comes into school with bruises and cuts on her body which she conceals from everyone but her closest friends. Her mother regularly hits her and abuses her and this girl has now started harming herself - she regularly sits in lessons scratching her arms with the sharp point of a compass.

Life at home for her is hell. Her mother constantly takes out her frustrations on her daughter and constantly argues violently with her step-father.

Why this leads her daughter to add to the miseries of her existence by harming herself is not clear. Perhaps at least the intensity of feeling, when she inflicts pain on herself, is at least in her control - rather than being imposed by others? - something a self-abuser once tried to explain to me before but which I can't claim to fully comprehend.

This girl begs her friends not to say anything that might lead to social services putting her in care. She would rather be regularly beaten, hit and abused than run the risk of being taken away from a mother that she loves despite the pain she causes her. She lives in desperate hope that her mother will leave her step-father and that life will return to it's previous happier state.

And perhaps it will.

Or perhaps her mother will go too far one day and her sad, bruised and battered body will be found dead.


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