is a one of the most common reactions
to discovery of a child's abuse
is considered traumatizing
by most mothers. Many mothers experience posttraumatic stress and are diagnosed with PTSD
. Anger is also a symptom of PTSD. The mother's life will never be the same, and her child will experience consequences
that may alter the rest of his or her life. The mother grieves for the pain and loss that her child feels. However, with the mother's support
and with other resources and supports, including counseling
, the child will recover.
Mothers may continue to feel anger and rage for many months, or even years, following the disclosure
of a child's sexual abuse. Without support
through this process, mothers may be stuck in the aftermath of disclosure for many years. Mothers go through the stages of grief
, and anger is a symptom of grief. A mother's anger
may be directed at the perpetrator
, herself, life, God, the child victim
, law enforcement
, social services
, the judge, and/or the attorney
. There is no end to the number and identities mothers may experience anger towards regarding their children's abuse.
The post-disclosure period
can be characterized as one of shock
and intense emotional reactions
. As the mind struggles to accept the fact of the child's abuse, acute emotions may increase, including anger. However, this is the period of time when the child victim, as well as other family most needs the mother's support
. It is important that the mother be rational and able to work with professionals (i.e., law enforcement, abuse assessment and therapist, district attorney). Managing anger is critical to the mother's day-to-day effectiveness and success in communication.
Anger related to your child's abuse may move underground, and you may no longer be aware of your anger. The daily stresses may consume your time and energy. Some mothers become depressed and immobilized after the disclosure. Depression
has been called anger turned inward
. When you are angry, chemical reactions occur in your body. Your body and mind are in a stress
state. If anger is maintained over time, it causes negative effects
on your health. Anger management
skills can help you take anger and turn it into something less damaging. Mindfulness
with your feelings, having support
people to talk to - all these will help you manage your strong feelings and transform them into a powerful force for change in your life. Take these steps, and you can control your anger, instead of your anger controlling you.
- Face your anger - Notice it, become aware of it. Know what the signs are that you are angry.
- Acknowledge your anger - Name it. Know that you are angry and admit it. Say to yourself, "I'm angry right now." Do not deny your emotions.
- Allow yourself to feel your anger - Do not avoid, hide from, push away, run away from, deny your anger or any strong emotion. Notice it, name it, feel it. Pay attention to where in your body you are feeling it. Get still and silent and become an outside observer to yourself and your anger.
- Process your way through your anger - Get underneath it. What is there? If anger is a secondary emotion, then what is the first emotion? If anger is a blanket emotion, what is under the blanket? Is it hurt, fear, disappointment, worry, grief, betrayal - what is driving the anger? Then feel that emotion.
- Let go of it - Work towards letting go of the anger. Anger provides information. It lets you know that something is going on. It is alerts you to danger. It tells you there is a problem that you need to take care of. Once it does its job, let it go away. Use your anger, then let it go. This is a difficult task.
As anger and hatred are consuming emotions that harm the body and cause illness, it is important to process through your feelings about the perpetrator and about the abuse. By reframing thoughts and feelings about the perpetrator and abuse, you can forgive. You do not forgive because the perpetrator deserves it, you forgive to save your life. Hostility is deadly. You also need to forgive yourself. Guilt, shame, self-blame, depression, and self-hatred must be released. In order to let go and get out of these powerful emotional states, self-forgiveness is necessary.
Eventually the realization of the abuse is accepted and integrated into life. Choices and decisions then flow from facing the truth - a reality-based approach to your life.You can then mourn your losses.