“Anger is a momentary madness, so control your passion or it will control you.” - Horace
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else;
you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha
Most of us have been effected by anger either at a familial, societal or individual level. Anger is one of the most misunderstood emotions because of its complex layers. Anger can both empower us but also lead us to do destructive unthinkable acts. We have unfortunately been impacted as a nation by the increase in shootings leaving us to wonder if one of the main underlining causes that motivate these shooters is anger driven. While at the same time Mothers against Drunk Driving aka M.A.D.D. was founded by women who have lost their loved ones to drunk drivers thus showing the positive power anger can have to help promote well needed social change.
I am writing about anger because I have decided to focus on the intervention and prevention of domestic violence and intimate partner violence. Due to the increase in life stressors we have all faced in the past few years with the pandemic, the divisive political climate, and the rise of inflation, there has been a significant increase of Domestic Violence. Therefore, I am making it one of my missions to raise awareness and to be a part of a much needed movement to not only help those that have been the victims of anger, but also to treat and heal those who are the perpetrators. Through my experience as a private practice clinician and the research I have conducted, I have discovered that those in need of anger management treatment are often underserved and also misunderstood. We have seen a gap in services especially in the area of helping to prevent and heal intimate partner violence (IPV) so that families can learn to thrive instead of fail and children can be saved by helping their parents.
Raising awareness about the issue of Domestic Violence is not an easy undertaking, because there can be many emotions that are masking anger. Many practitioners and therapists believe anger is a secondary emotion that is expressed instead of the primary emotion which may include fear, hurt, sadness, or frustration or a combination of any of these. Over the past few years, I have immersed myself in research trying to understood many questions such as: what causes anger?; when does anger cross the line into being unhealthy?; what are the different types of anger?; what are the best most effective methods to treat anger?; how can we help couples heal and improve their relationship when one or both partners has an anger problem?
If you believe you have an anger problem and it is effecting your quality of life at home, at work and/or socially, I encourage you to seek help to learn healthier more productive ways to manage your emotions. For those people who have explosive anger or are easily triggered leading to angry outbursts, is very often a defense mechanism that is learned. Therefore, just as we have learned to use anger as a defense mechanism to protect us from being hurt emotionally or physically, we can actively learn coping skills and strategies to uncover the experiences and possibly the trauma that is at the root of our reactions.
If you are a victim of someone's out of control anger and find yourself "walking on egg shells," I encourage you to first secure your physical safety by utilizing social and/or professional support systems and resources. Breaking the cycle of Domestic Violence takes changes at all levels- individual, familial and cultural. All of us are a part of the solution!
If you need help due to being a Domestic Violence Victim-
Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.