In any type of trauma, there is anger. Anger can continue to feed the trauma and keep it alive longer. Anger can also weaken the individual overtime through depression, fatigue and anxiety. Keeping strong emotional anger is unhealthy and it is important to learn how to properly release anger. This does not mean one does not have a right to be angry over the offense and trauma, but i does mean one must escape the anger before it becomes toxic.
Anger keeps trauma highly charged and weakens the self. It leads to sarcasm and bitterness in life, as well as resentment and possibly revenge. Revenge leads to further destruction and a cycle of violence and continued trauma. Furthermore, anger that prevents forgiveness stunts social growth. It prevents trust, increases hatred and forces oneself to close off to others. Hence it is important more so for one’s health to resolve anger and forgive than for the lack of worthiness of the offender to receive it.
Many feel forgiveness is impossible. Perhaps they view the offense as unforgivable. Rape, molestation and murder are sometimes very hard things to forgive. These things represent the worst within human society. Other things may be easier to forgive, but regardless of the degree, if one associates an action as unforgivable, then it becomes an anchor around one’s neck. Others feel they must protect themselves and must remain bitter and remain closed. Those who were physically abused, may feel their anger empowers them and protects them from ever being hurt again by never letting someone get close to them. Others feel they may betray themselves or their loved one, if they forgive the perpetrator. These are all blocks to resolving unhealthy anger and moving forward in life.
Anger is an emotion that may very well be important to the event. It is in fact a true emotion in trauma. It is OK to be angry. It is OK to feel the anger, but eventually, the anger can become toxic. It is important to start to experience the anger and understand it, but in a way that allows one to remain in touch with its importance but not its ill effects. It needs to be analyzed free from the toxic charge of initial rage, so one can understand its rationale and comprehend where it is aimed.
In doing so, many times, things need to be said, when those things cannot be said, then it is important to be able to find other ways to release. This is especially true when justice is not given to a particular case that prevents closure. Justice is an excellent way to help heal unresolved anger but in so many cases, justice at least in this world is not given. It is hence critical to be able to resolve anger sometimes without justice.
Some therapists suggest Gestalt Chairs, when one plays the role of both oneself and perpetrator. This allows the necessary discussion as one plays both roles. Being able to vocally express anger, confrontation and forgiveness is key. Furthermore, those with a belief of the afterlife, can find some closure knowing nothing goes unpunished before God. Ultimately, facing anger, the situation and forgiving, frees oneself from the perpetrator.
Forgiveness, however, does not mean minimizing the event, or condoning it, or forgetting it, or trusting the same person again. It does not dismiss the event, but it frees oneself from the emotional tie of the perpetrator. Even if one does not ask, it can free oneself. Forgiveness does not mean the individual still must pay a debt in this life or the next but it does allow one to move forward.
It is important in some cases to ask for forgiveness, but in other cases, this may not be an option, but the key is to decide to finally heal. Being able to resolve anger and give forgiveness may have to be done in constructive ways to release. Gestalt chairs or belief in God may be the best ways to forgive and understand. One needs to try to forgive the best way they can for their own healing. Sometimes, this can be accomplished through rituals such as confession, or other forms of expression.
Trauma is difficult to overcome. Some trauma is more severe and some cases of anger are harder to overcome. It is not an issue of denying the evil that occurred but it is an issue of healing and finding peace for oneself. Holding on to anger does not punish the perpetrator but it punishes the self and allows the perpetrator to continue to hurt the victim. It is hence important to learn ways to live and forgive before one’s life is totally destroyed.
Please also review AIHCP’s Crisis Intervention Program, Grief Counseling Program, Stress Management Program and Anger Management Certification. The programs are online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in the above disciplines
“The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook” by Glenn R. Schiraldi, PhD