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I have a 14 year old step daughter that is a cutter...

My step daughter has been doing this for about four years (that we have been told by her) We (her father and I) just found out about this last July. She had been living with her mother up until May (2012) when her father got full custody. The reason he had gotten custody was because her mother stopped taking her to counseling, she continued to cut secretly, her mother went to jail for 90 days in Feb (2012 ( she stayed with us during this time)). She went back with her mother when she was released and did a doozey of a cut job ( she even cut ALONE in her arm). The reason for this was because her mother decided that they were moving to California that summer to be with her parents. Our daughter was sort of messed up about this, knew about it the whole time she was with us, but didn't know how to tell us. The only way for us to get her help was by getting custody and getting medicaid for her, that's exactly what we did. She has been in therapy since July (2012) and doing well. The stickler is the custody and parenting time. It was agreed that she would go to CA for xmas break, and summer vacation. We were going to do this for a year and see how things went. She went from straight F's in school (49 days missed) to A's and B's (NO days missed). She, her mother and grandmother were/are under the assumption that if she does well we will let her go and stay in CA with them (the grandmother told him that they told her to do her best so she could come out there). To us, if she is doing well, why on earth would we send her back to the people that allowed this to go on for so long?
She is leaving in a couple of weeks for xmas break, she has not cut herself since July, and now just three days ago we find out that she did it again, "because she misses them, and this just isn't 'home'." I can understand that she misses them, but she went this long without cutting, when in the world did she do it just before she's going to see them? She had no structure living with her mother/grandmother, she was alone a lot. She has those things here (structure and not being alone). I also have my two preteen girls to worry about too, I don't want them influenced by her actions. We feel like we are doing the right thing. For her, yeah it probably sucks having to do things she never had to do before, but that's life, and we are the parent's, Right? Her mother didn't have to go out there, she had a job to come back to after she got out of jail, she could have gotten a better one at that to provide better for her. I hate the fact that her mother thought moving to CA was more important than being with her only child.
Any advice on this will help I'm sure..and thank you for reading.

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Asked by Anonymous at 10:45 AM on Dec. 6, 2012 in Teens (13-17)

Answers (9)
  • This is not my area of experience, but here is a bump to get the question some attention. Hugs.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 10:50 AM on Dec. 6, 2012

  • ANY change in routine can reignite the compulsion to cut. So, the trip out there to CA is a possible trigger.

    My daughter was a cutter and it was a difficult habit for her to break. And, it does become habit. Additionally, it sounds as though you've made some changes in the plans as she understood them (even if you didn't, it sounds as though she misunderstood). And I hope that you and your husband are not disparaging toward her mother in front of her. If you do talk about her, stop doing that.

    Finally, keep her in therapy, make sure her therapist knows of this development and continue to keep expectations. However, be prepared for many years of dealing with cutting, off and on. In my experience, it doesn't just end, like a switch being turned off

    Answer by Mrs_Prissy at 10:51 AM on Dec. 6, 2012

  • No bad talk is spoke of at all about her mother. Any discussion of that matter is kept between her father and I, even then it is mainly the simple fact that we can't believe she moved out there when help (and family) was here . They live on a farm that is not for a depressed/stressed out teen to be around. We have a hard time believing that that is a place she needs to be even though that's where she wants to be. ( forgot to mention that)

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 11:01 AM on Dec. 6, 2012

  • My guess isn't that she cut so much because she misses them- but because she will be visiting them? She is only 14 and I'm sure what she THINKS she wants at this point- is in fact no what she really wants or needs : /
    Cutting just does not stop entirely one day, and there are things that can and will still trigger it. She has been doing well, but it has only been a few months and this takes a long time. I was a cutter and my daughter was/is as well. This is a LONG road and there will be hard days where she will still resort to cutting
    As for her influencing your kids to do it- I honestly don't think it works that way- unlesss they have issues anyway

    She needs to keep with the therapy- especially if it seems it IS working, and the are giving her the tools she needs to deal with her emotions and problems in a healthier way

    It doesn't sound like her real mom has any idea HOW to be a mom and that is sad :(

    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 11:44 AM on Dec. 6, 2012

  • It is sad, especially the fact of what I've been told, She sees her grandmother as the mom and her mom more like her sister!! We are just caught up in her wanting to be out there, but we just can't see throwing her to the wolves (so to speak)...

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 11:57 AM on Dec. 6, 2012

  • I agree with everything charlotsomtimes said. I used to be a cutter too. I think she cut because she was going to CA, not because she misses them...IMO.
    As for her influencing your other doesnt usully work that way. My sister and I both cut because we had a lot of stuff going on at home. We both eventually ended up in foster care, but as soon as we started having visits with our parents, I started cutting again. It took me years of therapy to get through it. And I still have triggers...I just dont act on it.
    My advice is to keep doing what your doing. But I really think she needs more time before seeing her mom again. Or maybe a shorter visit. It seems to me like her mom and grandma is a trigger. Again...just my opnion.

    Answer by Lobelia at 1:18 PM on Dec. 6, 2012

  • I honestly would love for her to have more time to adjust without seeing her, because I do see what her seeing them does. It's just not possible because of the court order... =-/

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 1:30 PM on Dec. 6, 2012

  • From what you've said here, it sounds like her "because I mess them, this isn't "home"" is an excuse. Sounds to me like she's feeling anxious about going back to the people that did such a mind job on her. IF it were me, I'd sit down with her and ask her if going down is what she REALLY wants to do, of if she's feeling pressured to do it.

    If she IS cutting again, I'd make extra effort to reassure her that you love and support her.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 1:35 PM on Dec. 6, 2012

  • It sounds like she's cutting because of the stress of having to go to California where she knows she has no support. Make sure she talks to the counselor before she goes. Reassure her that you love her and care about her. Have an appointment scheduled for when she returns too.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 9:28 PM on Dec. 6, 2012

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