When Cutting Comes to Church

By Amy Sondova, M.A. When Cutting Comes to Church: A Guide for Youth Workers is a manual for youth workers who are working with students who self injure. Because cutting still remains largely a female problem, this manual addresses it as such. To get receive a PDF copy of this manual, When Cutting Comes Home: A Guide for Parents, or the research paper that started it all, Razorblade Confessionals, please e-mail me at amy@backseatwriter.com.


It happened my first week as the youth ministry intern in the summer of 2001. Clara, then 15, a girl I had known for several years, approached me and asked if she could come over to my house and chat with me. Because I had been close to her family since they moved to Allentown, I was excited about the prospect of hanging out with Clara. I babysat Clara and her sister, when they were younger and now I house sat for the teenagers when their parents went on trips. Clara knew me during those turbulent teenage years and she knew my testimony as a recovering cutter.

Clara sat on my Lazy Boy recliner. Petite in stature, she looked lost as she sat with her legs crossed Indian style. Her long hair framed her face and hung past her buttocks. She was a very attractive girl, I noticed, and she looked at me with clear, liquid brown eyes and bluntly said, “I think I’m gay.” Unprepared for such a statement, I kept my composure and explored the topic. True, she had engaged in a lesbian relationship that never directly involved intercourse, but did that make her gay? “Boys just make me feel icky,” she said. “I feel like girls understand me so much better. Amy, you used to be into self-mutilation? I know I can trust you with this. I’m a cutter.” I looked at her pretty face, and wanted to cry. I watched her grow up. I put her to bed when her parents went out. I cared about her. I saw the melancholy torture in her eyes and I knew that she was serious. If Clara was a cutter, who else growing up right in front of me was also cutting?

Over the months and years that followed, more students let me in on their dark, little secret. During one pre-dawn conversation on the high school winter retreat, Julie, 15, told me that she had tried cutting a couple times.

Then another girl, Martha, 16, who I had been counseling, showed up to youth group with mysterious bandages on her wrist. Since I was giving her a ride home that night, I asked her if she had cut. She admitted that she did. The number of students, both male and female, continues to rise dramatically. More often than not, a trusted youth worker knows about a student’s cutting before her parents do.All of a sudden, one of your students has come to you with her horrible secret, or perhaps you found out from someone else, or saw the scars on her lovely, youthful arms. There is hope. God has put this child into your life in this specific time and this place. Because you are her youth worker, entrusted with the responsibility of shepherding a teenager, you are capable of helping her. Come with me on a journey of hope, and let us enlist the help of the Holy Spirit to guide us in our journey. Remember, this is not a dark end, but a new beginning.

Please Note: If you want plan on using more than ten copies of this manual, please obtain permission from the author at amy@backseatwriter.com.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it <!– document.write( ” ); //–>

0 thoughts on “When Cutting Comes to Church

  1. Hi, I used to be involved with self-injury, and would love to see a full copy of when cutting comes to church, when cutting comes home, or razorblade confessionals. Thank you!

  2. I am a youth leader of a group of 6-7 high school girls. I found out recently that half of my girls are struggling with self-harm. I would love a copy of your manual, and attempted to email, but my message would not send.

  3. The email address to get a copy of the PDF When Cutting Comes Home: A Guide for Parents isn’t working. Is there a more current address or way to get a copy, please?

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