"Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person,to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and the right way - that is not easy." (Aristotle)
Anger is a stage of grief many people go through when a traumatic event is caused by the deliberate act of another human being. It may also be the sign that you are being hurt or that you are not positively dealing with an important emotional issue of your life. People often feel anger when they feel an injustice has been done against them, or when there seems to be no solution to a problem. Not everyone feels it, but many do. It is a natural part of your self-preservation response. When an animal is threatened or hurt, it will try to run away. If it cannot run, it will turn and fight, in psychology this is called the "fight or flight" response. Not only animals have the hormone-driven "fight or flight" response to perceived danger; humans have it too. Your minds register emotionally and physically painful situations as threats to your survival. If you cannot avoid them, they often result in anger.
Anger might manifests itself as rage, outbursts, depression or bitterness. Dealing with this can be very distressing and can leave you feeling lonely and confused. Anger is also often misdirected onto the people who are important in your life; people you respect and care for very much. Some people tend to walk around like time bombs waiting to explode. Knowing why you are angry and who or what the anger is aimed at can help you control the anger rather than allowing it to control you.
My Dance of Anger
Misdirected anger has been a real problem in my relationships and changing the way I use my anger has been one of the hardest things to do for me. I know I've lost control over my thoughts and emotions many times in the past and I often let my anger and frustration speak for me. I had been pretty hostile to everyone. Sometimes my anger manifested itself inappropriately as meanness directed towards people. It is painful now to look back and remember all the hurtful and hateful words that I've said, hurting those closest to me. That words came out of my mouth and, at that time, seemed to be beyond my control, exploding from deep inside....at their will, not mine. There have been many times when I have yelled at people or picked up a fight with someone just because I needed to be angry. I so often initiated a confrontation with someone only to transform my anger into sadness. At some point my eyes would be filling with tears and I would feel totally inarticulate.
I have slowly come to understand that this is a trap, one of the many traps that survivors of sexual abuse encounter on the road to healing. Taking my frustration out of someone else didn't make me feel any better and often just seemed to make things worse because I've also experienced the inevitable feeling of regret and guilt that followed my outbursts of anger. I would have never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings, much less the feelings of some of my friends. I used my anger to push people away from me. I had to go deep within myself to admit that I pushed away those I cared for the most, perhaps because I was scared that they could find out what was really going on. I thought I could ease the pain by driving them away, closing off my self to the hurt and rejection that I thought I would inevitably receive.
Researchers Ann Wolbert Burgess and Lynda Lytle explored the issue of anger:
"Many victims realize their feelings are out of proportion to the situation they are in. They will report feeling angry with someone and later realize the anger was unfounded in that situation. Women become quite upset over their behavior which, in turn, produces more distress for them."
I am now learning how to recognize the triggers and how to stop before I explode. Whenever I feel angry at someone I try to concentrate on what I feel, and to figure out my real emotions underneath. By this I don't mean to suggest that it is good to keep feeling locked inside, but only that sometimes pain and frustration can makes us blind.
This site is offered for support of other survivors, it is not meant to be a substitute for any kind of professional help. I don't have any qualifications or training in therapy, I am by no means a professional. I claim no responsibility for the use of this web site, use of content, or content of any links leading from this site. If you are in a crisis situation I urge you to contact your local rape crisis center or health care professional.