Case Study 2: Single Adults and Self Harm

Ronnie is an isolated woman who suffers from self-harm: she cuts and burns herself when relationships end and she periodically drinks and uses drugs excessively. She doesn’t have friends or outside support.

Currently Ronnie is in a group with other survivors of trauma who are also self-harmful. She describes herself as having a primary relationship with her dog. The group leaders and the group members have been very supportive of this relationship and Ronnie now brings her dog to the group with her. Although she is uncomfortable talking in the group, she has been willing to engage in group activities, such as breathing exercises, stretching, simple movement to music, outdoors explorations, and drawing.

For single adults like Ronnie, being in several types of groups or communities is especially helpful. Because these women are so isolated, often cut off from families, fearful of intimate relationships and even wary of commitment in friendships and/or one-on-one therapy relationships, finding connection in a group is both desirable and challenging.

It is important that the group not force any type of participation that is threatening. Sharing the stories of past pain and trauma may be overwhelming and create an increase in self-harmful activities. Groups that focus on self-care, non-verbal expression, and that give women new ways to understand and cope with their pain, are safer.

See our Trauma and Abuse Questions.

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