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Anger vs. Abuse

anger vs abuse
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anger and abuse

Many people confuse the difference between anger and abuse. It's an important distinction for anyone wishing to address problem behaviors in either area.

Anger is an emotion, usually layered on top of other emotions and often resulting from a fear or threat. Although it often gets a bad rap, anger is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences and is actually healthy.

Trying to avoid anger altogether usually just leads to "bottling" emotions that eventually explode.

Effective anger management focuses on identifying and understanding the emotions underlying the anger, processing those emotions, and getting the majority of one's emotional needs met in a way that is constructive, rather than destructive, to either the person experiencing them or others.

Abuse is a behavior that is often associated with anger, but is actually rooted in the desire to gain power and control, rather than an anger management problem.

Most people who are abusive to others -- whether the abuse takes the form of physical, emotional, sexual aggression (or all of the above) -- are actually acting with a great deal of control, rather than being out of control. They may believe their gender, status, race or belief system entitles them to more power than the other person or group of people. Or they may feel such a lack of power and control on a personal level that they try to compensate by stealing someone else's power and control.

People who are abusive usually behave this way only to people who fit into certain categories - for example, intimate partners, children, people of different races, religions or sexual orientations. These are categories of people who generally have less power, either in the home or in society, than they do, and so their abusive behavior is either condoned, ignored, or has minimal consequences. They may genuinely be angry at these people, but they are choosing to act on their anger through abusive tactics, whereas they are able to "manage" their anger toward people who they perceive as having equal or greater status or when there will be serious consequences to their behavior.

I believe that most people who have a genuine desire and motivation to change their behavior can do so. However it is important that they first be able to distinguish between their anger and other emotions, abusive behavior, and non-abusive methods of conflict resolution.

Provided by: The New York State School Counselor Association~ an organization dedicated to promoting excellence in school counseling across New York.

Robyn's Nest Related Articles:
Shaken Baby Syndrome
Sexual Abuse of Children
Missing Children
Child Abuse and Shaken Baby State Resources
Baby Abandonment



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