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To Sam

My friends family are harsh

My friends family are harsh to her and say mean things, they don't physically hurt her but they make her really upset, this has caused to her cutting herself. A lot. Whenever we talk about it I never know what to say to comfort/ stop her. I don't want it to get seriouse as she only started a few months back. Thanks
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thank you for contacting me to talk about your concerns for your friend. You’ve done the right thing to get in touch. I can hear that you are a really kind person who is looking out for your friend.

What is happening to your friend at home sounds like emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is just as wrong as hurting someone physically. It shouldn’t be happening to your friend and it isn’t her fault. You might find it useful to read the page about Emotional abuse in the Explore pages.

I can hear that you want to be there for your friend. It sounds like you’re not always sure what to say, but just listening to her when she needs to offload is very helpful. Remember that you’re not responsible for stopping your friend from self-harming. It may be that she is self-harming as a way of coping with her difficult feelings. There are people who will want to support her with that, but she may not feel ready to ask for that help yet. Both you and your friend can find out more about self-harming in the Explore pages.

Self-harm can sometimes be really risky, so if you think your friend is putting herself in danger, you might need to consider talking to a responsible adult about your concerns. Epic friends is a useful website for young people who are supporting a friend through difficult times. They have some great advice about how to decide if it is time to involve an adult. If you are ever concerned for your friend’s immediate safety (e.g. if you think she needs urgent medical help) then you should get an adult straight away, or contact 999.

Getting support with her family situation might help your friend to feel less like she needs to self-harm. You could think about encouraging your friend to talk to a trusted adult about what is going on at home. Maybe you could support her to tell a teacher, school counsellor or school nurse about how harsh her family can be. If your friend is being emotionally abused at home, her school have a responsibility to support her and help stop this from happening. Your friend could also contact ChildLine confidentially by calling 0800 1111, logging on for a 1-2-1 chat or sending an email via the website.

I want you to know that you sound like a very caring person and your friend is lucky to have you there for her. When supporting others it is important to look after yourself too. If you wanted to talk through how you are feeling then remember you’d be welcome to talk to a ChildLine counsellor yourself.

Take care,


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