Anger is an emotion driven by other difficult emotions, and domestic violence is a behavior driven by an attitude. Whenever you are angry it’s ostensibly because you are feeling pain, and want it to stop. Anger serves to help us focus on a situation, be motivated to do something about it, and become energized enough to follow through with whatever the next right thing may be to help make the pain stop.
Whenever you are behaving abusively to someone it’s because you want to take control and have more power over them. It’s an attitude that drives the behavior, not an emotion. The attitude is, “I can take control over others by abusive means.” In effect, giving yourself permission to hurt someone for the sake of taking power over them.
Lots of people look and act angry when they are behaving badly, but it isn’t about the emotions they are feeling as much as about their need for power, and they meet this need by taking control. In a case like this, anger is the justification they use to behave however they want.
I’ve heard people say, “See what you made me do?!,” and “I don’t have to take this from you!,” in the middle of them doing something abusive and controlling, just to make it seem like what they’re doing is justified and the fault of the one receiving the abuse. But, when you look really closely, you might see where the one behaving abusively created the whole difficult situation in the first place, and their abusiveness may even be a smokescreen of sorts in order to allow them to take more control.
Sometimes someone who’s acted abusively will tell the one they abused how sorry they are, but the fact of the matter is that if they hadn’t been so angry about what the victim did or was perceived to do, they would have never acted that way. In essence, blaming the victim for having caused the behavior.
Some people have a lot of anger deep inside them, and anything at all will cause it to bubble up to the surface. They are in so much pain that they are unable to either recognize it or respond to it appropriately. They are miserable. They’re only sense of relief is to focus their anger at others and thus justify their controlling and abusive behavior. This is only a temporary relief, since it does nothing to deal with the true and deep pain they carry with them, but it may make them feel more powerful.
Remember, regardless of the emotions involved, there is no excuse for abuse. Talking through the painful feelings is the only thing that works to stop the pain. Behaving disrespectfully and hurtful only increases everyone’s pain.