Self-injury, also called self-inflicted violence (SIV), is the intentional infliction of injury to oneself. It can consist of cutting one’s own skin with a sharp implement, burning, scratching, pulling out hair, interfering with wound healing and breaking bones. There is no suicidal intent, just the intent to injure.
Common Self-injury Habits
- Burning skin with a match or lighter
- Carving things into the skin
- Self-inflicted wounds
- Skin peeling
Trauma And Self-injury Disorder
Women who have experienced trauma are more likely to inflict self-injury on themselves. Trauma can be caused by many experiences including childhood abuse or neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual assault or rape, verbal abuse, witnessing war or accidents, and natural disasters. Many people who injure themselves often also abuse substances or have other mental disorders.
When looking into the effects of trauma on women, there is a strong correlation between surviving abuse and the onset of self-injury disorder. The purpose or intention behind self-injury disorder is complex, primarily aiming to restore psychological equilibrium.
Although physical injury is a result of self-injury, it is usually minimal and not life-threatening. The common thread among those with self-injury disorder is an experience of stress or trauma. The after-effects of trauma continue until adequate treatment is provided.
Many attempts have been made to estimate the prevalence of self-injury, but it is difficult because people who live with it generally attempt to keep the behavior secret. This is not only because of shame or embarrassment, but also to avoid intervention. Many mental health providers do not screen for self-injury disorder, or overreact and perceive the behavior as possibly suicidal.