Aggression is a behavior that harms, or seeks to harm, someone. It also is behavior that does or attempts to do property damage. Aggression includes mental, emotional and psychological abuse as well as violence such as physical assault, vandalism and other destruction of property (even one’s own). Other aggression can also be reckless and endangering behaviors such as driving recklessly, the reckless handling of firearms or other behavior that could potentially harm another person or property. Reckless and endangering behavior conveys a strong message that the safety of others (and their property) is not important. Furthermore, reckless and endangering behaviors ‘say’ that if others are harmed or there is property loss that is not important. Verbal abuse—the use of words to coerce, threaten, intimidate or humiliate another person, is also considered to be aggressive behavior.
Stalking through physical presence or by technological means such as phone calls, text messaging, and emails is also aggressive behavior.
It is a myth that anger leads to aggression or that aggression is a natural expression of anger. Many erroneously believe that the emotion of anger will, over time, build to the point that anger will be expressed through aggression. There are some individuals who go very quickly and habitually to aggressive behavior whenever the emotion of anger is felt and for these people, aggression naturally flows from their experience of the emotion anger. Many individuals with anger management problems never use aggression but benefit significantly from the skills and techniques taught in anger management classes. Anger without physical aggression is still an anger management problem.
Another form of aggression is used by individuals who engage in intimate partner abuse. This type of aggression stems from a choice to exert dominance over the intimate partner. In these situations aggression can be done without the buildup of emotion as is seen in people with anger management problems. Although a batterer of intimate partners, if observed during aggression, may use the same behaviors as those who express anger through aggression, battering is not typically an issue of anger management.
Domestic violence has its roots in very different dynamics than does aggression that is the result of unmanaged anger. Very specifically, domestic violence stems from beliefs and attitudes about intimate relationships and the need for dominance, power and control over partners that are considered ‘less than’ the aggressor in worth and status. Management of battering requires treatment that is significantly different than treatment for anger management. The issues of interpersonal power and control dynamics within intimate relationships must be addressed and corrected. Anger management, on the other hand, addresses the ineffective and, at times, dangerous mishandling of strong emotion.
People with anger management problems can learn to use techniques that prevent aggression. Anger management involves the controlling of anger escalation so that aggression does not occur in those who escalate emotionally to such behavior. In contrast, domestic violence treatment focuses upon the beliefs and attitudes about intimate relationships and partners that make partner abuse and aggression an option or choice.
Anger Management & Domestic Violence (BIPP) Classes in Houston, TX
Gregory Kyles, LPC, CAMF
Anger Management & Domestic Violence Institute