Step Ten Self-Help
- Regardless of what happened to you as a child, you are always responsible for your actions as an adult, just as your parents/abusers were responsible for what they did to you years ago. Some survivors harbor fantasies about getting revenge or punishing their abuser(s) for what occurred. It is one thing to have these thoughts, and quite another to think about acting on them. If you entertain fantasies such as these, you are entering dangerous territory, and we suggest that you seek professional help immediately. Actions taken on such thoughts could constitute criminal acts and subject you to severe penalties, including jail.
- You have good reason to be so angry, but you need to be able to separate your right to have these feelings from your right to act on them. As is stated in the ASCA meeting guidelines, "We draw a line between thinking or feeling angry and actually doing something abusive through words or actions." If you can learn to express your feelings with people you trust, as opposed to acting out feelings against them, you can dissipate this built-up aggression without becoming another abuser. For men who are inclined to aggression and violence, this may be one of the most important steps of recovery and the most difficult to achieve.
- Make a list of the situations where you lose control of your behavior and become aggressive. Can you identify the determining factor in losing control? What feelings tend most to trigger the abusiveness? What do you hope to accomplish by reacting aggressively? Does it work? How do you think the person at whom you are directing your aggression feels? Do you feel optimistic about being able to control this part of you or do you feel hopeless? Are there any external factors such as alcohol or drug use that might be related to losing control? What are your healthiest options for controlling your frustrations and coping with stress? Once you have identified them, see if you can't find ways to apply them in the typical situations where you lose control.
- If you are having a very difficult time learning how to control abusive and aggressive behavior, think about joining a focus group or taking a class in parent effectiveness training or non-violent behavior alternatives. You might be able to find an anger management or other similar educational course that emphasizes expressing anger constructively rather than destructively. Local community mental health services and community colleges may have programs. Check with your Employee Assistance Program at work and your HMO/health insurance carrier for possible community listings.
- Learning how to short-circuit your aggression will mean hard work and tailoring behavioral strategies to fit your individual needs. Once you have acquired the necessary behaviors, you will need to practice them so that they become instinctive responses and part of your behavioral repertoire.
Survivor to Thriver, Page 90
© 2007 THE MORRIS CENTER, Revised 11/06