Cover Stories for Self-Harm Scars

March 6, 2015 Jennifer Aline Graham

When you are struggling with self-harm, it is very rare that when someone asks about a visible cut or burn, you will answer with the truth. There are the occasional few who will honestly answer that question and admit to their struggle without embarrassment or insecurity. While that kind of behavior does occur once in a while, more times than not people who self-harm use cover stories for self-harm scars.

It is absolutely natural to instantly feel on edge when someone points out a self-injury mark that has visibly snuck out from hiding behind a bracelet or your sleeve. Since self-harm is something many do in the privacy of their own space, having others jumping in on that privacy can feel extremely uncomfortable. When that awkwardness starts setting in, a lie is usually created quickly and without much thought.

And most of the time, that covery story for self-harm scars is not believable.

It can be tough when you’re stuck between telling the truth and making up a cover story to hide your self-harm struggle. You don’t want to feel like a liar because you are making up a story, but you don’t want to tell the world about your battle just yet. In that moment, when someone is making you face this dilemma, the best route is to follow your heart – even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Self-Harm Scars
When asked about a self-harm scar, many will make up a self-harm cover story. But what effect do these cover stories for self-harm have on the individual?

Recently I was playing with my feisty miniature schnauzer when I noticed a scratch he’d given me on my forearm. Of course, my mind immediately went to how ironic the scratch placement was and how uncomfortable it made me. Even after six years without an intentional cut, little scratches in places where I used to cut myself still make me uneasy. I started wondering what loved ones (who knew about my past) would think if they saw it and if they’d automatically assume I’d been self-harming again. This time, however, my story wouldn’t be a self-harm cover story.

This scenario brought me back to when I used to lie about where my marks had come from. Only a few times had people actually asked what had happened and I can still remember almost every lie I told: "my cat scratched me" and "I had a weird reaction to my color guard gloves were two of my most famous."

To Tell or Not to Tell a Cover Story: Is That Really the Question?

However, I think the real question is: why has the idea of self-harm remained such a taboo topic? Why do people who self-injure still feel as if they will be automatically judged once people know about their battle? In truth, I think this is the case because those who self-harm often hide their struggle (see: Why I Self-Harm) (which is understandable). With that, people see self-harm as secretive, mysterious and, obviously, unsafe.

Do not feel as if you must tell those who ask about your scars details about your self-harm. Your struggle is private and if people genuinely question the marks, do what feels most comfortable to you in the moment. If it is to tell a little white lie, so be it. However, know that the more you self-harm, the more questions may arise and sooner or later, your self-harm cover stories stories will grow thin.

Stay true to yourself and stop the self-harm. Once you stop self-injuring, so will the stories.

You can also find Jennifer Aline Graham on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and her website is here. Find out more about Noon through

APA Reference
Aline, J. (2015, March 6). Cover Stories for Self-Harm Scars, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

June, 6 2022 at 1:32 am

as others already said, it's not really that easy to just stop it. and sometimes you can save yourself from some big trouble if you come up with something (versus, let's say, being put against your will into a mental ward). by the headline I thought you would probably suggest some ideas on those 'cover stories', but only wasted my time in the end.

June, 27 2022 at 2:54 pm

Hi Paul,
While I was not the author of this particular post, I am sorry it did not help you. Personally, I do agree with you. It is not easy to stop self-harming, and there are certain situations in which it is unfortunately better not to disclose details about your mental health—not everyone is receptive to it, and some people will make the situation worse.
However, offering up cover stories in a blog post would be tricky, because there are also times when it would be better NOT to cover up the truth. And what might be a believable white lie in the context of one person's life might spiral into something much worse in the context of someone else's. It's a topic I might cover in future posts, but for now, the best advice I can give you is to think about what will make the most sense in your own life.
Me? I used to blame it on stray cats, because I was the kind of kid who pet a feral cat with mange if I thought it needed love. For a person who doesn't like cats or go outside much, that wouldn't work at all. But for me, that was a totally plausible white lie that got me out of some potentially seriously uncomfortable situations. But it also kept me from talking to people who, in retrospect, could have helped me start healing sooner. So please do keep that in mind, when coming up with your own cover stories. They are best used only when absolutely necessary.

October, 30 2017 at 6:58 pm

Its not that easy to stop! For most of us its a way to release our emotions kind of and self hatred! To get rid of that feeling of self hatred it takes a long time and until its gone, we know that that is what always works to get our pain out. Without cutting, i probably would have gone mental and possibly would have straight out tried suicide. Cutting is a middle between suicide and between mentality. Its what people who cant bring themselves to suicide but can bring themselves to that middle because we know without that muddle we wouldnt be us at all. Either we would be dead or we would be a legally demented person...

February, 10 2016 at 9:19 pm

"Stop the self-harm"
If we're being completely honest here, it really is that easy. The only reason that a cutter would have difficulty with stopping is if they had a legit reason to continue doing it.. And I have yet to hear one. It's nonsense for people to call it a 'natural way to relieve stress.' Sex works to relieve stress. Yoga supposedly does too. Take a nice, long, hot bath!! Google 'ways to relieve stress'; there's literally hundreds of other methods out there, and you choose to destroy a beautiful, innocent body. Don't pick up a razor blade because its more convenient and likely to get you more sympathy. Treating yourself like a weak, little victim isn't gonna get you anywhere, except right where you started.
"No one should have to feel bad for not being able to stop self-harming."
What? So they should feel dandy with the fact that they mutilate their own body? And should be content in doing so for the rest of their lives?
If anyone struggles with self harming for their entire life, its their fault. They most likely refused to seek help. They don't have anyone to blame but themselves for the scars they'll spend the rest of their life hiding and lying about.
I used to "struggle" with this, but in actuality, it wasn't a struggle at all. It was a choice. I chose to pick up that knife, I chose to continue doing it; regardless of the support I had from my family and friends to stop. Not a day goes by that I don't regret doing something so stupid and pathetic. The hideous scars that I wake up with, sleep with, and go in public with are just reminders of how weak I was and how strong I am now. But I'm not stronger because I ever cut in the first place; I'm stronger because I soldiered on and tackled life without needing some worthless 'escape' method.
I encourage those who self-harm to seek help; there's plenty for you to take. Life doesn't get any easier, unfortunately. And the people don't get any nicer. But you can get stronger.

March, 21 2015 at 10:33 am

If you have scars like me, then just because you stop doesn't mean that the questions will stop. I find that a lot of people who ask already know the answer. They often have a relative or they cut themselves. Sometimes they want to talk about it. Sometimes I will, sometimes I don't want to. And then there are the people who don't know- they tend to ask me if I have a cat. I just tell them I used to- it is the truth.

March, 16 2015 at 10:10 am

You say "stop the self-harm" as though it's really that easy. For a lot of us, it isn't. It's often the only way that someone can deal with their feelings of self-hatred, a sort of "last-resort pressure-release valve." So why not just accept that, for some people, self-harm will be a life-long problem, and try to help give us advice on how to live with it our entire lives? No one should have to feel bad for not being able to stop self-harming.
March, 15 2015 at 7:27 am

I would like to stress that not only young people struggle with self-harm but people of al ages.

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