Some people get violent when they get angry, need to feel in control, feel betrayed or feel afraid. But violence is never acceptable. The good news if you think you might have a problem with violence is that you can learn how to control your violent behaviour.
Do I have a problem with violence?
Violence isn’t just about physically lashing out. It can include things you do, things you say, threats and intimidating acts. It can also mean making people do things they don’t want to do, or stopping them from doing things that are important to them. Violence seriously damages relationships with family and friends, hurts people physically and psychologically, and destroys property or possessions. It can also lead to legal problems and even imprisonment.
If you hit something or someone, if you break things deliberately, if you become verbally aggressive and threatening, then you have a problem – no question.
Some important questions you might ask yourself to see if you have a problem with violence include:
- Are you worried about the effects of your behaviour on your mates, loved ones or children?
- Do you feel very guilty and like you need to make amends for your behaviour?
- Is your partner, another family member, friend or colleague ever afraid of you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you and those close to you might benefit from you getting some help. You can change aggressive and violent behaviours with support. If you are interested in taking action, read on to learn techniques that can help you get control of your violent behaviour.
If you want to make certain to get on top of it, particularly if you are striking out at your family, it is a good idea to get help with violence now.
Is anger making me violent?
Violence can be part of an anger cycle. Our anger can build up gradually, or it can be there in an instant. We can think of this build up as the escalation phase of the cycle. We can learn to control anger during this part of the cycle – even if it is very high. If we do not control it, our anger may explode into violence and aggression – breaking or hitting things, punching someone (the “explosion” phase). This is when we can do serious damage. In the next stage of the cycle – the “post-explosion” phase – we may feel ashamed and guilty, and we may suffer the consequences of our violence (legal, financial, and – worst of all – losing friends and loved ones).
What can I do about it?
Putting an end to your violent behaviour can mean getting much more control over anger and other risky moods so that you don’t let the explosion phase of your anger cycle happen. This means taking responsibility for noticing the early warning signs, and being prepared to act well before your breaking point. You can do this by:
- Being more aware of the triggers: What kinds of things set off your anger?
- Watching for signs that your anger is building up: What are your particular signals? Can you identify what happens in your body, what you are thinking, or how you behave as your anger escalates?
- Monitoring your anger level – try rating it on a scale of 0 – 10, where 0 is perfectly calm and 10 is your worst anger level, and keep track as it builds up.
- Trying to express what is upsetting you calmly and assertively BEFORE the anger gets too high.
- If you can’t do that, or it doesn’t seem to work, taking time out for five minutes: walk away, go to the toilet, go outside.
- Learn to stop your anger from escalating by finding more helpful ways of thinking and learning strategies to defuse anger on the High Res website and app.
- You can use the Problem Solving tool from the High Res website and app, so that you are better equipped to deal with problems that frustrate you or make you angry.
You might also find the tips for managing anger helpful.
What else can help me manage violent behaviour?
You might find that violence happens more often in certain situations. The following tips might help you manage the risk of becoming violent in situations that are risky for you. If you find that violence happens very impulsively for you (quickly, without thinking or noticing your anger build), then the challenge is to limit the chances you will act impulsively.
- Try to get on the front foot with managing risky moods – by exercising regularly, eating well, and getting enough sleep you’ll be able to think more clearly and get out of trouble with your violence.
- Consider getting treatment and support for any physical or mental health condition you are experiencing. Having a mental health problem might sap the strength you have to manage your violence so it’s important to get on top of any problem as soon as possible.
- Cut right back on alcohol and other drugs– they can lower your inhibitions and alcohol in particular is the number one risk factor for violent behaviour.
- Limit your access to weapons.
- Limit the time you spend with other people who are likely to be violent, or encourage violence.
- Think about the places you go, and situations you put yourself in – perhaps you need to limit certain people, venues, places or situations until you are able to control your mood (including feelings like anger and frustration), and your violent behaviour.
If you’re concerned about your violent behaviour, it’s definitely a good idea to get some professional help.
- A GP is always a good place to start when trying to overcome problems with violence, as he or she can help with a thorough assessment of the problem and make referrals for specialists if necessary.
- This website has information on a range of professional care that is available to current and former serving members.
- Family violence prevention programs are run by Relationships Australia, and include a range of services to assist those with violence and or abuse issues in their relationships including family violence programs for perpetrators.
- Reaching out for help is a sign of strength.