Kathi Whitten, LCSW - Individual, Couple & Family Psychotherapy

Distressing incidents headlining recent news have given rise to discussions concerning the importance of examining our attitudes toward violence.

Most people aren’t violent, nor do they deal with their frustrations in such frightening ways.  But this seems an appropriate time to again consider situations spanning a continuum from aggression to violence, occurring more often than many realize.

Sometimes people are attempting to be assertive. Yet when their actions are examined more closely, they would more precisely fit the definition of either aggression or violence.

We’ve heard, for example, of work place situations where people get into such heated arguments that their language becomes abusive. This rarely leads to actual physical violence, but serious hurt and resentment may result, and it certainly does not lead to improved cooperation and productivity.

People are finally more aware of the seriousness and pain of bullying—and fortunately, have begun actively addressing the problem, in an effort to stop it before it occurs.

Then there is road rage, especially common in large congested areas where people’s patience is pushed to the limit by traffic.  It’s not only unhelpful to the situation, it is dangerous.

Spouses and parents may get so stressed that their language becomes aggressive, and sadly, even physical violence may occur. Unfortunately, people who care deeply about each other may find themselves doing terribly hurtful things with their words or even, in extremes, becoming physically abusive.

While most of us wouldn’t behave in ways as violent as those that make the news—many many be surprised to realize how many ways anger easily and quickly can get out-of-control, leaving people emotionally or physically hurt.

If you’re in a situation where such aggression occurs, you must seek help. If the aggression is reaching a dangerous level, contact the police immediately.

Individuals, couples, whole families, workplaces and schools sometimes need to find better ways of handling everyday anger, than expressing it in aggressive or violent ways.

Learning coping skills and anger management is important, because there are far more effective ways of handling and expressing anger.  When people work toward better solution-building skills, and find respectful ways to express differences, everyone benefits.

We must deal with aggression before it becomes tragedy.

If you often lose control of your anger, or you’re in a situation where someone else does, talking to a professional about better ways of handling or dealing with any form of anger or aggression could be an important first step toward a positive change for you.

Kathi Whitten, LCSW February, 2011