What’s the Difference Between Anger and Abuse? 

It’s important to distinguish the difference between angry behaviors and abusive behaviors. Anger is a natural and normal feeling. However, the behaviors people exhibit when they feel angry may or may not be acceptable. Abuse should not be tolerated.

The underlying reasons for angry behaviors and abusive behaviors are different. When people are angry they may lash out or say things they don’t mean out of difficulty being rational while feeling so upset. Angry feelings can cause people to do or say some things they might not normally do and say. This, however, shouldn’t be used as an excuse.

Abusive behaviors tend to be a lot more purposeful. Abusive behaviors are meant to control the other person. Various strategies ranging from intimidation and guilt may be used as manipulation tactics.

Intimidation tactics may include things like smashing things or destroying property. It can include looks or gestures to make the other person feel afraid. Abusive people may show off weapons or brag about their ability to hurt others. In extreme cases, they abuse pets.

Emotional abuse may include things like name calling or putting the other person down. Abusive people don’t want their partner to feel good about themselves. They may try to make their partner feel guilty as well.

When behaviors become abusive, the person doesn’t take responsbility for the behaviors. They may deny that the abuse occured or minimize the seriousness of it. They may also blame the other person.

In contrast, people who exhibit angry behaviors can take responsibility for their role. They can admit to crossing the line if they became angry and yelled or behaved inappropriately. They also work on making changes so that it won’t happen again.

Both men and women can behave abusively. Abuse happens in all economic classes and across all types of people. If your partner is abusive, it is important to seek professional help. The abuse is likely to escalate over time and get worse. If you think your partner has an anger problem, it can also be helpful to seek counseling. Learning how to change your own behaviors and reactions can be helpful.

One Response to “What’s the Difference Between Anger and Abuse?”

  1. This is such an important distinction for couples managing relationship conflict or crisis to be aware of – anger vs abuse behaviors.

    As a couple’s counselor I’ve always over-emphasized the importance of non aggressive communication strategies. “Anger flooding” can happen too fast, – in seconds. As anger increases the human IQ drops.

    during couple-communication, emotionally distressed partners need to stay as close to the underlining sense of hurt and fear of loosing their partner as they can, before their self-protective anger leads to uncontrolled criticisms, shutting down or aggressive behaviors all of which can lead to abuse, and that also reliably predict divorce or break up.

    When people are hurt, some anger will usually find expression even with the best emotional self-control strategies in place.

    Another thought provoking article. Thank you. I’m tweeting this one to my readers!

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