Anger is part of God's nature. The New Testament records that Jesus expressed anger on several occasions. We can conclude that anger in itself is not bad, but unresolved anger becomes destructive. Unresolved anger inevitably causes us inner turmoil. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26, "Be angry, and yet do not sin" (NASB). Most of us know how to be angry, but what we need to learn is how to be angry without sinning.
Anger is apart of God's nature.
How do you feel about that statement? What effect does the fact that anger is a part of God's nature have on your recovery?
Anger is a signal that God has given us, just as pain is a signal. Anger tells us that we rae being hurt, that something is wrong, or perhaps that someone is demanding too much. Sometimes our anger becomes generalized and we us it as a defense. When you understand the simple dynamics of anger, you see that, as a survivor of abuse, you have been deeply hurt. Anger would be a natural response. To remove that anger, you need to acknowledge it. Hurt may be a residual emotion that you feel even after you have dealt with the anger. You may express your anger in sudden outbursts, or you may reveal it in passive ways such as isolation or depression. If you have displayed your anger in unproductive ways, you will probably retain that anger until you can learn how to release it positively, and use it to find out more about yourself instead of lashing out against yourself and others.
Anger is a surface emotion. Underneath the anger you will usually find other feelings that also need expression.
In your journal, write the feeling words that create the greatest emotional response...
Hurt Rejection Shame Used Humiliation Alone Unimportant
You may be using you ranger to protect yourself from feeling humiliated, used or hurt. To feel anger is less painful than to feel the underlying emotion.
When you have been rejected, humiliated, used or when you have been hurt mentally, physically, or emotionally, the normal response is to become angry. A young woman who had been a child victim of sexual abuse described how rejected and humiliated she felt as a young girl when the police came to her house. She said, "I had been walking home from school when a man approached who said he would give me candy. I never got candy, even though I went to the woods with him. He raped me. I was so sore, and blood was all over me. He tore my dress. A woman had seen me go with him, but it was over so quickly. My mother got real mad at me and kept saying, "How could you be so stupid as to go anywhere with a stranger?" With tha tstatement, my mother gave me a good weapon to punish myself. I was so confused. I didn't think anything could feel worse than what he did to me, but this was worse. I thought, She's right, my mom's right. Why did I go into the woods? I was stupid. I hate myself."
Because we have trained ourselves not to feel our emotions, sometimes we can more easily feel angry about the ause that happened to someone else. In your journal, describe your feelings about what happened to the little girl you just read about.
Describe your feelings about the fact that the victim was blamed for the abuse.
Is your story similar to the story of the little girl? Explain.
When Bill read the story it reminded him of how his father had shamed him because of the abuse he suffered from an aunt. He was finally able to be angry at his father for not listening to him and understanding.
How is your story different?
You need to allow yourself to feel your anger about your abuse and about the way others reacted to your abuse.
Note the following methods you have been using to deal with your anger.
I suppress it.
I have sudden outbursts.
I have become depressed.
I turn it inward through self-hate.
I act out in passive-aggressive ways.
I am self-destructive.
None of the methods listed above are healthy expressions of anger. Acknowledging that you are angry, validating your own significance, and focusing your anger on the abuse are healthy ways to deal with your anger.
Describe your feelings about how others have reacted to your abuse.
Jim had panic attacks when he thought someone needed something from him. He discovered the source of those attacks. He had never allowed himself to be angry at the soccer coach who sexually abused him. Jim hated what the coach did to him in the locker room but craved the coach's praise on the field. Jim was also angry at himself for wanting the praise. Sexual abuse often puts the victim in a double-bind situation.
Remember your memory verse.
"Be angry, and yet do not sin." Ephesians 4:26
Your anger is not a sin. To feel angry when others take advantage of you is healthy and normal. As you feel your anger you can deal with it in appropriate ways. Then you will use less of the destructive ways mentioned above.