Seeing Red? How To Cool Off When You’re Angry

Please note: this post includes suggestions for people dealing with anger issues that affect others in their lives, not just their intimate partners. Keep in mind that anger management programs are not recommended for abusive partners, as abuse is not the result of anger issues but rather the desire to control an intimate partner.

Anger is one of those electrical emotions that all of us experience — some more often or more easily than others — and different things provoke us and rile us up. It can be a healthy emotion up to a point. For instance, anger about a cause, an injustice or a political issue can motivate us to act for good. A lot of the most influential movements and changes in our country began with a feeling of anger or frustration.

But anger can also be very dangerous. Anger can get out of control and have negative effects on yourself and others, depending on how you deal with it and express it. The emotion manifests itself in different ways, and if you find yourself getting angry frequently and intensely, you can probably begin to notice physical symptoms first. Your heart beats faster, your breathing rate increases, your muscles tense up, and more.

If you feel yourself getting angry, what should you do?

  • cool-offTell yourself to calm down. Slowly repeat gentle phrases to yourself like “take it easy,” “cool off,” or whatever works for you.
  • Force yourself to leave the situation. Take a time out, walk away, and avoid coming back too soon. Take a walk or go for a run.
  • Use visualization to calm down. Close your eyes and picture yourself in your favorite place.
  • Count to 10 (or 50… or 100) if you feel like you’re about to do or say something harmful. It’s a quick, easy way to separate yourself mentally from the situation.
  • Splash some cold water on your face.
  • Slow down and focus on your breathing. Conscious breathing involves taking slow, deep breaths in through your nose, and slowly out through your mouth.
  • Phone a friend. Do you have a supportive friend or family member who can lend an ear and calm you down?
  • Try to replace negative, angry thoughts with positive, rational ones. Even if you’re feeling upset, remind yourself that getting angry isn’t going to fix the way that you’re feeling.

Now what?

Make time for yourself to de-stress and focus on an activity that makes you happy, whether that’s reading, spending time with friends, or whatever else. Getting enough exercise weekly can also help alleviate stress.

Practice relaxation techniques such as listening to soothing sounds or songs, or doing meditation or yoga.

Keep a journal or log about your anger. Record the feelings you experienced, what factors contributed to your anger and how you responded to it. Try to write down the thoughts that were going through your mind and the time, and then reflect on these instances and see if there’s any sort of pattern to your anger.

Think about the consequences that come with angry outbursts. Is your anger causing strain on your relationship? Scaring your children? Take time to reflect on how your anger could be affecting those around you.

Try to note any other emotions you’re feeling alongside anger. Are you feeling depressed? Frustrated? Confused?

Learn about communicating with others in a healthy way. Being able to talk rationally and calmly when you start to feel angry can be an important part of relieving anger.

Consider taking an anger management course or going to counseling.

Further Reading

If you’re taking out your anger on your partner, give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233). You can speak confidentially with a non-judgmental advocate about these behaviors and discuss steps for getting help.



Help Stop Violence Against Women Worldwide

Every day, women and girls around the world are subject to physical and sexual violence. Gender-based violence knows no physical or cultural boundaries, occurring in times of war and peace and in every single country around the world. Shockingly, rates are as high as 70% in some countries.


But this is a problem with a solution.

The U.S. government has a critical role to play in preventing and ending gender-based violence worldwide. And Members of Congress have a unique opportunity in this important effort.

Passing the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) is one of the best ways the U.S. can help. This new bill – introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and soon to be introduced in the Senate, represents a crucial step in sticking up for and empowering women and girls worldwide. The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) integrates violence prevention and response into U.S. foreign policy and supports proven programs that can reduce violence against women and girls.

On any given day, horrifying news stories about such violence appears across the news: The systematic rape of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Increasing assaults on the women and girls standing up for their rights in Afghanistan. Violence against women and girls in Haiti whose lives are already devastated by the earthquake. Sadly, the list could go on for days. These horrific instances of gender-based violence are not isolated to a few women in a few places- they are just the stories that make headlines.

Incidents of violence against women internationally can seem distant and incomprehensible. But the women affected share many of the same dreams and aspirations as our sisters, our daughters, our friends and lovers, and our neighbors. Violence takes the lives of millions of women and girls, and denies countless others their dignity and the chance to live safe, productive lives. And, in a world where tensions and violence within communities can jeopardize national and international security, it is vital that the United States take action.

We cannot turn away. We must end atrocities committed against women and girls in their homes and in their communities, during times of peace and times of conflict.

The United States Congress can help address these horrifying abuses. Lawmakers should move quickly to pass IVAWA and signal the United States’ commitment to stopping violence against women and girls worldwide.

You, your family, and your neighbors now can let lawmakers know you want more to be done to address violence against women globally. And you can do it right now.

Let your Member of Congress know that ending violence against women and girls is important to you. Send a message urging him or her to pass the International Violence Against Women Act.

To learn more, go to “Let’s Pass I-VAWA!”


Blame Shifting and Minimizing: There’s no EXCUSE for Abuse


Why do we make excuses? You tell a friend that you’re busy with something else because you’d rather just put your feet up and watch the game. You tell yourself that eating that pint of ice cream was fine because you went running the day before so that cancels it out.

To some extent, everyone makes excuses.

When it comes to people making justifications about their unhealthy actions, it can be difficult to see through these excuses or recognize them for what they are.

Why do we want to believe the excuses a partner makes when they’re treating us badly? Sometimes the justifications sound really good. Especially when we’re looking for something — anything — to help make sense of how the person we care for is acting toward us. It’s normal to want to rationalize what’s going on, because abuse is pretty irrational.

Abusive partners are also skilled at coercion and manipulation. They use excuses to make you feel like what’s happening is your fault.

Let’s take a look at common excuses that abusive partners use and talk about why these, like all “reasons,” aren’t justification for violent and hurtful behavior.

  • “I was drunk/I was using drugs.”

Substance abuse isn’t an excuse for abuse. There are people who drink and use drugs and don’t choose to abuse their partners. Ask yourself: how does your partner act when they’re drunk around their friends? How do they treat you when they’re sober?

A statistics teacher would tell you, “Correlation does not imply causation.” Just because two things happen together (like drinking and violence), it does not mean that one causes the other.

  • “I control you because I care about you.”

Acting jealous, controlling or possessive is not a way to show someone you care. 

  • “You got in my face/made me mad/got me wound up on purpose, and I had no other choice. I can’t control it.”

Stress and anger issues don’t cause abusive behavior. An abusive partner’s actions are always a choice that they make. Ask yourself: how does your partner react when they are angry with other people? Would they fly off the handle at their boss? Chances are probably not, because they know they can’t get away with that behavior around others.

  • I have mental health issues or a personality disorder — ex. I’m bipolar, I have PTSD.”

There are people who have mental health issues and don’t act abusive toward their partners. If an abusive partner is dealing with a mental health issue, ask yourself: have they been diagnosed by a professional? Are they seeking help or taking medications? Do they act abusively toward others (friends, family, coworkers), not just you? Learn more about mental health and abuse.

  • “I grew up in a violent home where I experienced or witnessed abuse”

There are a lot of people who grow up in violent homes who choose not to abuse their partners. Many choose this because of how they grew up — they know how it felt to live in that situation and they want healthier relationships for their partner and their family.

Do you find yourself making these excuses for how you act toward your partner? Or, on the other hand, do any of these excuses sound similar to what you’ve heard your partner tell you when they’re treating you badly?

Being able to recognize excuses for what they are — blames, minimizations, denials — can be a step toward realizing that abuse is never the fault of the person on the receiving end. Remember: partners who are abusive always have a choice about their words and actions.

We’re here to talk: 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).


The Negative Effects of Anger On You and Others

Has there ever been a time in your life when you got angry and ended up hurting someone you care about? In the aftermath of feeling mad, it’s often easy to spot and pinpoint the damage you’ve done. There are visible, tangible signs: tears on the face of your partner, a heavy silence hanging in the air after a loud shouting match.

But anger issues can also cause problems in your life that perhaps aren’t so easy to spot right away. Unfortunately, there’s a whole laundry list of ways that anger can have a negative effect on your life and on the lives of those around you.

Do you ever feel like your anger might be getting out of control? Do you have trouble calming down when you get angry? How do you express these feelings?  If anger is a common emotion in your life, chances are you’re causing undue harm to yourself and others.anger

Your anger affects you

Do you ever feel really angry and unable to let something go? Do you feel like you’re continually on the brink, or on edge? When your anger lasts for extended periods of time, it becomes more difficult to cope with little aggravations in your life and it becomes harder to de-stress.

This can affect every day activities, like work and extracurriculars. It can be hard to focus on tasks or accomplish projects, and can make people not want to work alongside you. Anger also causes feelings like guilt, remorse and shame (especially if you generally act out in ways that you later regret.)

If you’re angry and constantly stressed because of this, it’s also likely that you’ll feel unable to let loose and have fun — which is important for your mental wellbeing.

Excessive anger also puts your physical wellbeing at risk. In the short term, anger can cause headaches, migraines, chest pains, aches and more. Over the long term, anger issues can further complicate pre-existing health conditions. It can also put you at risk for hypertension, high blood pressure, depression, and cardiovascular issues.

While this all may sound like a television PSA for a new drug with “possible side effects,” the impact that your anger issues can have on your life are real and far-reaching.

Your anger affects those around you

You know the saying “laughter is contagious?” The same holds true for other emotions. Your anger can affect not only you, but the people in your life as well. It casts a negative feeling on those around you.

At the very least, your anger can cause people to feel put off, upset, intimidated, afraid, or a handful of other unpleasant emotions. You’re also running the risk of pushing loved ones out of your life for good.

Do you lash out at your partner when you’re angry? Whether this is emotional, physical or both, it can have an extremely negative effect on your partner’s wellbeing. Solving conflict with anger, yelling and violence also sets an unhealthy precedent in a relationship, ignoring the need for open, trusting communication.

If you’re taking out your anger on your partner, give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233). You can speak confidentially with a non-judgmental advocate about these behaviors and discuss steps for getting help.

If you feel like your anger might be getting the best of you, becoming aware of this is the first step toward making a change.

Further Reading

Psychology Today has a lot of helpful articles about anger.


Happy New Year From The Hotline!

It’s been an amazing year of milestones for the hotline, and we couldn’t have done it without the kindness and generosity from all of you. We are so grateful to our supporters who helped us create healthier families and communities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The hotline saw growth and change in 2013:

  • This summer we answered our 3 millionth call, a somber milestone that allowed us to reflect on the people we’ve been able to help and the work that still needs to be done.


  • In October we revamped our website… and launched online chat services! Victims, friends and family now have a new way to interact with an advocate and get help safely, quickly and anonymously from any device with internet access.

  • In October we asked, “How do you see DV?” and the responses were more than could’ve imagined. We featured blog posts by everyone from Denver Broncos’ Chris Harris, Jr., to Jasmine Villegas.

  • Our loveisrespect advocates have seen a record number of young people reaching out for help via text (“loveis” to 22522) and chat.

  • Vice President Joe Biden stopped by our Austin, TX headquarters during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Check out this great recap of his visit.

  • We launched the 24/7/365 Society. A pledge of $1,000 a year for three years secures a place as a founding member of the society, recognizing your constant support of victims of domestic violence.

  • We participated in Giving Tuesday for the first time ever. On December 3rd our advocates and staff joined together to build a Gingerbread Hotline. With each donation we added a fun item to the hotline, representing how each gift builds and strengthens our ability to help more survivors, families and friends.

  • In December, the Avon Foundation for Women offered to match any gifts we received, up to $200,000. This was a great opportunity, because each gift did twice the good.

It’s been a great year of change, and we’re looking forward to what the coming year will bring. From all of us here at the hotline, we’re so appreciative to have a strong community of supporters and friends working to build a world of healthier relationships. Thank you for helping us serve 24/7/365.

Remember that we’re always just a phone call or chat away. 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy new year.