Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Getting in touch with anger is an inevitable part of healing from abuse. It's not fun, but it is necessary.

I've known for years that some day I'd have to recognize the anger that automatically fills a soul when one is mistreated. I was frightened by the thought. Anger frightens me. I am typical of many victims of domestic violence. I associate anger with abusers and the horrible harm they do. I've never wanted to be anything like them--so my anger was stuffed and rejected as unacceptable.

Some of you readers can fully identify with the above paragraph. You are normal. Others of you can't relate at all. You have been very in touch with your anger. You are furious at what happened to you and you use your anger to try to protect yourself from any further abuse. You'd rather hold power than to ever feel powerless again. Guess what. You are normal too. Both responses are typical. Both are a result of abuse.

Either way, anger must be dealt with. Anger itself isn't bad. It's just another emotion. But when anger is suppressed or when it is held on to it grows bigger and it harms us by creating excess stress. It is natural to feel the anger--it needs to be felt, and then let go. We can honor the emotion with acknowledgement and then allowing our emotions to move on, ending the feeling of being stuck in past abuse.

Last week, I finally recognized my anger and worked on releasing it. I hit a pillow with a child's bat many times with a friend near by for support. I was shocked by how hard I hit and how many times I hit the pillow, but it felt right. I thought about past abuse as I worked out the anger. I thought about all my mixed feelings over being a victim. I thought about the people who had done such wrong things to me. I thought about how I'd wanted to protect myself, but had been unable to stop the abuse for years. It was all ugly, yucky stuff but it felt right to admit my reality fully and to let the suppressed emotions out in a harmless way.

Afterward, I felt peace and new energy to keep claiming the abuse-free life that I want to live. I felt more energy to focus on loving others and to work on building healthy relationships with others. Something about acknowledging the anger is freeing me up to break out of the isolation that has haunted me since I was first abused.

How about you? Do you suppress anger? Or do you burn with anger? Have you honored your feelings of anger at being mistreated with abuse? Are you at a point where you can let your emotions move on? If so, try doing some harmless movement to release the anger--go for a long run or swim, visit a batting cage, hit a pillow with a childs padded bat, tear up lots of paper...

If you're not ready to look at your anger yet, don't worry. The time will come. God will help you know when it is time.


Just Be Real said...

Anger is part of my journey. I am still in the process of channelling it to the appropriate place, person(s) etc. Blessings!

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Thanks for the comment, Just Be Real. I like that you used the word process. Whether we are trying to get in touch with anger or are very aware of our anger it is a challenge to figure out how to appropriately express the emotion that we couldn't express at the time of the abuse. I thank God that he is compassionate and patient with us as we go through this difficult process. He understands!

Just Be Real said...

Your response is right on the money Tanya, thank you!

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft