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To Sam

My girlfriend does self harm

Dear sam

so i have a girlfriend, and it was a little while after we went out tht i found out that she cut. I thought it had something to do with her childhood. And i was right, i managed to get something from her, it had something to do with her uncle and her childhood. And it was later on that i noticed a scar on her neck. It was quite long. I try and help her but she just shuts me off. She also told me that she used to make herself throw up. I cant bear seeng her like this. Its not a regular thing. Its almast like if it were timed. I need help on what to do please.

Sincerely, D*

Ask Sam


Hello D*,

Thanks for your letter and for telling me how worried you are for you girlfriend at the moment. It sounds as though she has been through a lot and that hurting herself has been a way that she’s coped with her experiences.  I can hear how much you care for her and how upsetting it is for you that she’s going through this.

I’ve heard from a lot of young people who are concerned for a friend or loved one who self-harms. Many people tell me it makes them feel really powerless, because they know that someone they care for very much is hurting and they aren't able to stop it. Not being able to control a difficult situation or make it better can be really tough to deal with. You haven’t mentioned how this situation has affected you. If this is something that you ever feel you would like to talk about, a ChildLine counsellor would listen and support you.

You say that you had a feeling that something from your girlfriend’s childhood was causing her to self-harm and that she later told you that you were right. It seems like she wasn’t able to tell you much in terms of details at the time and that this might have left you with lots of questions. When a person experiences something traumatic, it can be very difficult for them to be able to put their feelings into words so I can hear that it might have taken your girlfriend a lot of courage to be able to tell you as much as she did. I don’t know whether you’ve ever told her about ChildLine, but sometimes people can find talking to a stranger much easier than talking to someone they know. You could also show her ChildLine’s confidentiality promise, which makes clear what can be kept just between a caller and ChildLine (there are only a few things that can’t be).

You mention that you saw a large scar on your girlfriend’s neck, but you haven’t said whether you know how she got it. It sounds like you think she may have hurt herself? If you are ever worried that she could hurt herself in a way that could put her life in danger, you could tell someone and get her some help. You could talk to a trusted adult or you could call 999 for medical help if it is an emergency.

When she told you that she used to make herself sick, it seemed like she was talking about something that happened in the past but doesn’t happen anymore. If this is something that your girlfriend still does, then this website might be helpful.

You wrote that it almost seemed as if things were timed and that it wasn’t a regular thing. I wasn’t sure quite what you meant by this. Often when I read the letters people send me, I feel like I want to ask questions so that I can understand better. However, if your girlfriend has experienced something traumatic, then it could be there are things in her life which trigger the difficult thoughts or feelings she’s experiencing. I don’t know how you’d feel about asking her. There’s also a chance that she might not know what those triggers are – sometimes it can take a while to work that out.

What is really clear from your letter is how much you care for your girlfriend. You or your girlfriend can always get support from a ChildLine counsellor by calling 0800 1111 or logging on for a 1-2-1 chat.

Take care,


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