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Anger

It is very common for survivors to feel angry at some point after they are assaulted. Often this anger leads to the destruction of parts of the survivors life. Relationships are destroyed, eating disorders are developed, and the survivors life is torn apart by the overwhelming anger. Here is a place to explore anger and hopefully find some solutions to overcome it.


Nancy Venable Rainn describes finding the pair of underwear that she was wearing when she was raped, and her subsequent experience with anger, "I stood up slowly, as if not to wake the forces that I had unwrapped, and went to the kitchen for a baking sheet, a can of lighter fluid, a box of long kitchen matches, and a soup spoon. I put the newspaper and its contents on the tray and slipped down the stairs and out the back hallway door. I carried everything outside to a corner of the garden near the pond where the ducks were gliding on the dark, still water. I placed the wood and the underpants on top of the newspaper, doused them with lighter fluid, and struck a match. I watched what happened.

Then I imagined the worst thing I have ever imagined: the man who had raped me burning up alive. I imagined his screams of agony, his hideous pain. I saw the fat under his dirty skin crackling in the flames. A terrible pleasure consumed me. "Die," I said, over and over.

Until this moment, I had not allowed myself to feel my hatred. Now my body felt huge and powerful. It felt good to be a monster, very good. My mind-all thoughts and feelings-seemed to vanish into the pleasure of the pain I gave him. His pain, my pleasure made a perfect desolation. I relished it...I thought I was fine now that I had killed my underpants."


"My anger had already contributed to a growing distance in my marriage. When I withdrew sexually, Tim was faced with a strain of guilt by association. Was he somehow accountable for the sins of his gender? How could we engage while I was so withdrawn unless he initiated the seduction? Was that pressure? What is the relationship between erotic aggression and rape? Had the line moved? Would he overstep? He became trapped in one of those undecodable logical fallacies: A man harmed the woman I love. I am a man. Therefore, I ....

I could give Tim no help. My anger was easily triggered in those days, and my instinct was to withdraw, to resist his affection, in fact to fear it."

-Patricia Weaver Francisco

Note from Lis: Ever scream at a loved one when you're not really mad at them? Ever pick a fight with someone just because you need to be angry...you need to yell? There have been many times for me when I have yelled at a friend or a family member, and they have done nothing wrong. Misdirected anger has been a real problem in my relationships, because many times I don't realize that it's misdirected, and the person I'm yelling at has no idea what they did. It takes a lot of effort to be aware of how I'm feeling and whether my anger is justified or misdirected.


"What felt [safe] was to tell her how furious I was that the rapist had driven me to a shrink. It was his fault I was falling apart. I told Helen that my rape was 'worse than death,' and that I felt the rapist had destroyed my life, that I could never rebuild it. 'Never, never,' I said. I hate him with my entire being. I wanted to see him dead. I wanted to kill him myself. I had never expressed my rage to another human being this directly. It was no longer deflected onto someone or something else in my life. It was the rapist I hated that night."

-Nancy Venable Rainn

Note from Lis: I have experienced this. I believe that it is a stage that you must go through in order to heal. Suddenly one night when I was doing the Courage to Heal, I was overcome with rage towards my attacker. It was crippling at the time, but I believe that it was a healing experience. Allowing myself to hate the person I should have hated from the start, instead of myself or other people, was the first step towards forgiving myself.


"I inherited these hurtful, evil spirited monsters and their slimy, perverted companions from my abusive, tyrannical father. It is painful to witness hate and anger explode from me, hurting those closest to me. The words and emotions that came out of my mouth seemed beyond my control, coming from deep inside, exploding at their will - not mine.

As I recognize these ugly parts of myself, I see that although they are inside, they are NOT me. I need not fight, react to them or give them power. Thank goodness I am learning to recognize the triggers and how to stop before I explode."

-Linda Ness

The above is the description of a painting Linda Ness did depicting her anger. To see the painting, click HERE.


You don't have to justify everything. Being pissed off is just absolutely okay...The idea is to rescue myself from the role of a victim. That I have a choice left. Though I can't change what has happened, I can choose how to react. And I don't want to spend the rest of my life being bitter and locked up.

-Tori Amos



Survivors Speak About Anger


My anger is tearing my life apart and it feels like I'm being pushed into rape again. It seems like everyone doesn't care if a rapist walks free and I walk away worrying my life away about whether or not I ever get to kill him or he would be put in jail. It's so hard to fight against powerful people even when they know their doing wrong. For years I learned to keep my head up and always tried to keep my soul turned towards the safety and protection of the people I was with. But it all imploded on itself when I was forced to see a woman getting attacked and now all I can say is that love doesn't live here anymore. My anger being held inside of me for so long and the fact that it needs an outlet has left me with revengeful thoughts of almost homicidal forms. And I cant even depend on counting my own blessings because earlier parts of myself were destroyed by rape. I went to see a spiritualist and she had the nerve to say that "JUSTICE" is "just is". Well that sets sparks to the gas coming from my angry soul. I feel certain that my attackers are all untouchable. Thank you for giving me an outlet for some of my anger!

-Jen


Anger is such a confusing thing. I spent years learning how to NOT get angry, yet now when I am letting it out (admittedly, sometimes inappropriately), because people have said it would be good for me to let it out, I am judged and slammed because I should be more in control. What a double standard! I guess I still don't understand. It feels really good to be mad, especially when I know I'm right, but when it's not accepted, it's hard not to feel like I'm a bad person, or that I'm purposefully hurting someone because it feels good. What is written at the very beginning of this section puts it well: oftentimes when we do let out anger that is directly caused by our rape or molestation or abuse, it destroys relationships. A lot of the time, that's what I want: to destroy relationships so I can just be left alone. At least I can trust myself.

-Martha


Anger is a funny thing. I suppose you could say that its my favorite weapon that I use on myself. I don't have uncontrollable outbursts of anger, I have uncontrollable "inbursts" of anger. I get angry at myself and beat myself up before it ever reaches the surface and hurts anyone else. I'm afraid of what will happen if I "let it fly." I'm afraid that I won't be a "good girl" anymore. I don't want anyone else to get hurt because of me. Even when I do get angry at other people, I hold on to it. There's a whole lot of anger churning around inside me, but I don't know how to get it out without hurting anyone. I know that I'm really angry about a lot of things, I just don't know what to do with all that anger. It just sits there like a time-bomb waiting to destroy me.

-Maggie


My anger sometimes isolates me, by ruining relationships with the very people that I love the most. It keeps me from getting close to someone when I know I really would like to know them better. It keeps me from opening up and sharing my real feelings. Then the anger just builds up more and more until it is finally let out, and then shocks everyone, because they never knew I felt that way. I have a great deal of trouble "letting go" of my anger. I know I need to, but it's terribly difficult to do so. I know my anger just builds up and harms me emotionally, but still I find it hard to let go of the anger and accept that I need to try and move on. I never know when it'll happen. One moment I feel well, and the next my anger becomes overwhelming. Hopefully, as time goes on, the anger will subside.

-Sera


Anger always eats away at me no matter how hard I try to heal. I have anger against myself for not speaking up and stopping my grandfather from abusing me for 5 yrs. I feel I could have stopped the hell from continuing if I would have spoken up but when your 8yrs old it's not so easy. Now I'm 26 and have a lot of agression and anger buried within trying to break out. I'm still angry with God for not being there for me when I would scream for him to make Grandpa stop. I thought he was supposed to protect all his children from harm. I can't have a normal sexual relationship with the man I love and adore, because when ever he touches me or we have sex I have flashbacks. I can't sleep because when I close my eyes memories and pain are alive and well in my dreams. What else can I do? Where can I turn before I force everything thats important to me to dissapear because I can no longer cope?

-Dena


I have been angry for most of my life. When I see my face I don't see myself anymore I see a very cold person. I don't feel good about myself any more. I just got married. I thought I could move on but now I just take it out on my loved ones. I cant even hug my own son. To me that is pretty bad. I am even going to church but I am to afraid to be around anybody. I just don't think anybody wants to hear about it anymore. I am trying to keep my anger to myself but when I drink it makes matters a whole lot worse. I tried to stab my boyfriend at the time and I tried to jump out of a second story building but I thought that might hurt so I backed off. I was put in a hospital. And here I am. I do find praying alone has helped me a lot. I feel God has heard me and my cry, but I must do my part. Healing is the first step and learning to love again is not so bad after all.

-Janice


I don't know why I'm so easily set off. I'm angry a lot, but most of the time the anger in me is just a front for how I really feel. I've never been one to show weakness, I hate it. Always have. So when I start to get weak inside, I reverse those feelings so I don't start crying in front of people and I get angry. it's amazing how much it can affect people. And I realize now that it's okay to cry. I'm just still not comfortable crying in front of people. It's just not what I do.

-Juana


Why? I ask myself that question a lot, why? Couldn't I be a normal child... why was I to be a sex toy to my older brother... why!

-Canndice


This probably will sound strange to many of you, but I do not like to be angry. It could be grounded in my upbringing in church, or the way I have seen anger explode in family settings. Whatever the reasons are, I was raped repeatedly by a stranger at gunpoint at the age of 12 and molested by an uncle in early childhood until he raped me at 13 and 16. Should I be pissed. YES!!

Anger scares me. The pure rage is what hurt me. It is the instrument that slashed my soul, and so I am very reluctant to hold that sword of fury in my hands. I am afraid it will kill me or others.

-Nicola


The anger that I have in my heart towards my stepfather is so immense. I allow it to eat away at me literally. Every time I think I'm at a point of not being angry anymore, anger floods my mind, my body, my entire being. I was molested from the age of eleven until thirteen. I'm now twenty six and suffering physically from my anger. How do I get past it? Permanently.

-Tishs


I am very angry. It makes me angry that I am angry. Everything just gets so built up and one thought leads to another. I am angry that I didn't tell my family about being raped until 6 years after the fact. I am angry that I am the one spending money on counseling, that I am the one that feels I have no control at times. I am angry that I direct these feelings at those I love and myself in the form of guilt. I really wish I could get past the anger. I am afraid I am going to explode.

-Chantell


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