How Do We Manage Our Rage?

As survivors we’re often not aware of our rage. We’ve had a lifetime of learning how to push it down so hard we don’t even feel it. Considering what we’ve been through, it’s no wonder we’re furious. But how many of us put the rage where it belongs – on the perpetrator of the crimes against us when we were helpless children?

Recently I received a message from a survivor who was furious with her child self. “Why couldn’t she stop it?” she wondered. “How could she let that happen? I hate her!”

She wasn’t particularly angry with the perpetrator, just with the child who hadn’t stopped the abuse and who now lives inside her. In her head she knew she needed to embrace that child, but with that much hate, she found it impossible to love the child as a part of herself.

For me, I couldn’t be angry with my father who abused me because every time I thought of him, I dissociated. When you’re in a fog you can’t feel much of anything, let alone rage. I displaced this rage onto my mother. Today I feel a lot of love for her. After all, who knew about child sexual abuse back when she was in charge of my safety?

How many survivors displace their rage onto their partners?

It’s all too easy for the partner to become confused with the abuser once the couple establish a home and settle down together. In any marriage “transference” plays an important role. We tend to regard our partner as we did one of our parents. Especially if we’ve been abused, we can easily turn our significant other into a tyrannical or angry spouse.

How do we deal with our anger? First we need to be aware that we ARE angry. Then take a good, hard look at why we are angry. Is it really about the present situation? Or is it about the past?

Finding the answer often means seeking professional help, someone we can trust with our pain and confusion about present pain – someone who understands how traumatized individuals carry their woundedness into present day life.

4 comments

  1. Heidi says:

    Mary, your blog has struck a cord with me. Ever since reading your blog a couple of days ago I have been thinking quite a bit of what you have written, and it made me realize the reason I am angry with my mother. I would say I’m angry at her for not being a mother who should have protected me from all the unnecessary harm that was done to me as a child. Sometimes I wonder how come I don’t hold the same kind of anger towards my father when he too should have protected me from the unnecessary harm done to me. I am guessing because my abuser was mother’s brother all the hatred and anger I have against my abuser I am taking it out on my mother. Having said this I am realizing more and more I need to mend my relationship with my mother as I should not totally blame her because she was not the one who inflicted all the harmful wounds I suffered as a child.

    • Here’s another factor. Since your mother didn’t seem aware you needed protection she was very likely abused when she was a child. Mothers who have been abused themselves often just don’t “know” that their children are victims. These mothers dissociate around sex.

      Abuse like this is generational. It runs in families. The very fact that children get abused causes them to live in a fog. If your mother’s brother was a perpetrator, who else in the family abused or was abused?

      I hope this is helpful to you.

  2. Julie says:

    I’m going to show this article to my husband of 28 yrs. I just started therapy 1.5 yrs ago for CSA and emotional neglect. I have displaced my rage onto my husband for many yrs in the form of verbal abuse. He is a good man and has taken it for what it was. But he’s fed up. I hope this will help him understand that I dont do it on purpose and that I am learning to channel it somewhere else. But it takes time…Thanks

  3. james says:

    The destruction of a child is currently the most debilitating and greatest loss to our society today. in a modern world with planes ,trains ,automobiles, luxory liners and super duper computers we as a society have done nothing to address the human factor nor put in near enough thought into the raising of our children. When one talks of justice there seems to be an 18 year delay in metting out justice to our youth, our children our countries treasure the earth’s Treasure. I am not talking about after the fact issues . i am talking about the injustice of allowing this destructive behavior to go unchecked any longer. there is plenty of cause and rime to stop with the bullshit and government must take the bull by the horns and implement needed educational instruction to both parents and children. There is enough known about the damage to justify a cure . Now as a people’s let us do for our nations children whom are the future leaders of the world that we are an educated peoples that we are serious about education and bringing up our kids in a safe environment . if you are really wanting to heal than get proactive prove to yourself you are the victim no more get proactive let us throw these evil people in jail for the rest of there lives and get busy raising decent people who are capable of contributing instead of producing pools of tears that don’t get cleaned.

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