Belfast Telegraph

Help me end my self-harm hell

Northern Ireland's number one agony aunt Fiona answers your problems

Dear Fiona, I'm a 35-year-old woman and I do things that I know are hurting me. I've abused drugs and alcohol, self-harmed, and I'm bulimic.

Between the ages of 10 to 15 years old I was sexually abused by my father but I never told anyone as I was ashamed and I didn't want to tear my family apart.

It hasn't affected me anyway. I've forgiven my father but I'm still hurting myself. I feel physically sick revealing this but I need to know what's wrong with me and what I can do?

L

Dear L,

It's normal to feel nauseous when revealing long-kept secrets such as these. Just as being physically sick removes harmful substances from our bodies, you'll also feel sick at first when exorcising the memories and feelings associated with your father's abuse but it's healing in the long-term.

It ‘hasn't affected' you because you've subconsciously desensitised yourself.

Also, people who ‘retroflect' tend to do to themselves what they would like to do to others — i.e punish themselves instead of the perpetrator.

Bulimia nervosa is one of the greatest manifestations of self-hatred and it's widely accepted that childhood sexual abuse is a risk factor.

You may have forgiven your father but you've never confronted all the emotions which arise from such a gross abuse of trust.

Please speak to your GP who may refer you for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which has proven to be extremely beneficial for those recovering from childhood sexual abuse.

Or, alternatively speak to a sexual abuse counsellor.

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