By Sean Cruz
Self injury became an issue for me when I learned that my son Aaron had been cutting himself with a knife during his captivity in Utah, the victim of a Mormon abduction, his despair and loneliness so intense that he would carve deep wounds into his beautiful arms, like the girl in this story in Indian Country Today:
“When she was 14 years old and living in a boarding school in Arizona, Alex Exendine cut her forearms with everything from broken mirrors to scissors to cope with her grief. The Lakota teen from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation had lost her best friend to a brain tumor, and the grandmother who helped raise her died shortly after.
“’I was so lonely,” Exendine told the Rapid City Journal. “I just never thought anyone understood how I felt.”
“Now 19, Exendine shared her struggle and how she overcame self-injury with Indian leaders and medical experts at the self-injury prevention conference "Wakanyeja Ihawicakta Pi, Looking Out for Our Children: a Cultural Learning Opportunity on Self-Injury Prevention” in Rapid City, South Dakota from May 12-13.
“Exendine told the Journal that her internal suffering and bottled feelings led to physical self-harm. “I felt like I had no emotions anymore,” she said. “I started cutting and I’d at least feel something.”
I first saw the knife-wound scars on my son’s arms while he lay comatose in Payson, Utah, in 2005, stared at them for much of the five days he lay there unresponsive. And then the doctors pronounced him dead.
They looked like those in the illustration, except Aaron’s were all above the elbow, on both arms. Deep, wide scars as much as four inches long. Many scars were laid across other earlier scars, indicating that this behavior had gone on for a prolonged period of time.
I counted 15 large scars.
Abducted children get lousy medical care.
Learn about how Alex Exendine overcame the urge to self-mutilate; see the complete article and illustration by Marty Two Bulls at Indian Country Today here: