I was violently sexually assaulted by a family friend when I was 12, and began self-harming shortly after. I thought I was to blame for my attack and began punishing myself by cutting, bruising and burning myself. It was part of my daily life, until I was in 11th grade. My literature teacher saw a bruise I thought I had hidden away, and she comfronted me about it. She told me that I was not to blame for what happened to me and she just listened as I explained what happened. She pulled a leather bound journal out of her desk, handed to me, and told me when I felt like self-harming, to write in the journal instead. I thought it at first to be a stupid idea, but I gave it a shot because she was my favorite teacher. And you know what, it DID work. I graduated in 2014 with my master’s degree in social work and currently work with young women dealing with mental illness, including self-harming tendencies. I still have the days when the thoughts of self-harming begin to try and sneak in, but instead of harming, I write in a notebook I always keep in my backpack. Healing is possible; it takes time and a willingness to give yourself the chance to heal and be okay. But you can heal, you can grow, and you can move past the pain.