Bethany Storro Acid Attack Hoax and Self-Injurers
Bethany Storro, the 28-year-old woman who claimed she was the victim of an acid attack in front of a Starbucks, has admitted that the entire story was a hoax. What remains now, besides the physical scars, are questions about her emotional and mental states and what drove this young woman to self-inflict such a painful injury on herself.
It may be that Bethany Storro is among the population of people known as self-injurers. If so, she is not alone.
Who Are Self-Injurers?
According to the American Self-Harm Information Clearinghouse (ASHIC), about 1 percent of the general population (including some famous people) has, at some point, harmed themselves physically as a way of coping with an overwhelming situation or emotion. Self-harm, also known as self-injury, self-inflicted violence, self-mutilation, or self-injurious behavior, can be defined as any deliberate, direct injury a person does to his or her own body that causes tissue damage or leaves scars or marks for longer than a few minutes, and that is done to cope with an overwhelming or distressing feeling or situation.
People who are self-injurers often feel helpless, frightened, isolated, and depressed, and their actions are a way of trying to gain or regain some control over some aspect of their lives. The ASHIC explains that self-injury serves a function for the person who does it, even though to outsiders that reason may not be apparent.
For example, self-injurers may harm themselves to distract themselves from emotional pain, reduce a desire to commit suicide, help them maintain control over painful memories, punish themselves for something they believe they have done that is bad or evil, or express feelings they cannot put into words. People who harm themselves often never developed healthy ways to express their emotions or to cope with distress or negative events.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, self-injurers come from all backgrounds, and the behavior is not limited by age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, or education. There are, however, some common factors among people who injure themselves intentionally; that is, the behavior is more common among:
- Adolescent females
- People who have a history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Individuals who have a co-existing problem with substance abuse, an eating disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder
- People who were discouraged as children to express their anger
- Individuals who lack good social support and the skills to express their emotions
Although a self-inflicted injury may cause life-threatening damage, self-injury is not considered to be suicidal behavior.
Bethany Storro’s Story?
On Storro’s Facebook page last week, which has been removed, she reportedly wrote that she wanted to appear on the Oprah show to “inspire people and tell them about Jesus,” but that she changed her mind.
At a news conference in Vancouver late on September 16, police Cdr. Marla Shuman said that “I think it’s obvious to everybody here that she’s in a fragile mental state,” and noted that “I think prosecutors will take that into account.” The police announced that the investigation into Storro’s attacker was closed, and they did not speculate on the woman’s motive for making the claim.
Hopefully, as Bethany Storro’s physical scars from the acid attack heal, she will get help for the emotional scars and mental anguish that drove her to self-injury.
ABC News, Sept. 16, 2010
American Self-Harm Information Clearinghouse