Recommended: Kellie Jo Holly: The Power-Control Dynamic and Abusive Anger


For every woman ready to move on and leave all the crap in the backwash, here’s an eyes-open gander on a topic most would like to forget about already.

An abused man/woman/mother/child can become abusive. The simmering anger fueled by our impotence to stop the pain can be redirected at innocent bystanders. We know it, we’ve seen it, we’ve probably tried it out a time or two, truth be told.

Here’s a lovely quote from an article by Kellie Jo Holly, “The Power-Control Dynamic and Abusive Anger.”

Like Kristen, I also heard myself say things that I thought I’d never say. I witnessed myself act out angrily in embarrassing and hurtful ways during and after my marriage. My abusive anger never once helped my marriage, and it holds the potential to ruin any healthy relationship I ever have.

Let’s just say that I learned how to be an abuser from an excellent teacher and could continue that pattern in my life if I chose to do so. Like Kristen, I choose not to use those tools any longer because I am not interested in hurting other people so I can retain/gain power or control.

The problem was that I knew two ways to behave: I could abuse or submit. I did not have any other tools in my toolbox. It’s like trying to build a house with only a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench. Both tools will work, but there are so many other tools that would make the job smoother!


Once again, Kellie Jo nails one for the home team.  Well done~

You’ll find the complete post here.

6 responses »

  1. Which means then that when we deal with abuse victims we can expect to get whacked sometimes? Helps to know where it really is coming from. I’ve probably slapped a few people too when giving in to the nasty treatment I’ve had from abusers over the years. Abusers put us in battle mode. You get hit enough and pretty soon your fists are up all the time. Then, of course, when we let loose it is our abuser who is there, pretending to be soooo calm and patient, pointing out our terrible anger problem to us.

    • “Then, of course, when we let loose it is our abuser who is there, pretending to be soooo calm and patient, pointing out our terrible anger problem to us.”

      Which makes you want to smack your forehead against the wall repeatedly and with great enthusiasm. Then one day I realized that *I* felt horrible when I slipped up and said something I knew was a low shot and the estranged felt fully justified in whipping us on a continual basis.

      I think we either give in to anger and pain and let fly or we go to the Father and repent. And once we’re free and really understand the dynamic, perhaps we see more clearly and have some big choices to make.

  2. Yes and yes again, to all that Ida Mae and Jeff have said. I put my hand up too.
    Having been very inappropriately angry at my daughter in the course of attempting to parent her in the context of post-separation abuse from my ex, I eventually made an inner vow: never never never to do that to her again.

    Several times in my life I’ve made an inner vow (in the privacy of my prayer time, wrestling with God and my fleshly self). Each time it helped a lot; I did not repeat the behavior. But I only made each vow because I’d done the big bad behavior repeatedly, and it filled me with shame, so it got to the point where my conscience was screaming at me that I MUST deal with that tendency (whatever it was) in myself.

    Mental rehearsal in prayer is part of what an inner vow means to me. Mental rehearsal of the alternative behavior: what to do at crunch time, instead of acting out wrongly in anger.
    [that’s just how this little bunny works; it may not apply to anyone else]

    Another thing that helped in keeping the vow was to figure out ways to stop myself *getting* to breaking point. Get enough sleep. Maintain, where possible, a reasonable daily routine. The basic stress-management techniques that we all hear about. Not always easy to do, when you’re being abused. But still worth trying, in as much as you are able to be master of the circumstances of your life.

  3. Good points, Barbara.

    My worst problem? I’ve definitely found myself saying things in a way that would get the kids to do the things I want done without just coming out and asking. Last thing on earth I want is to manipulate or control my children. Let’s just let *that* pattern die out please dear Lord!

    Mental rehearsal helps me also because it helps me replay the incident(s) and find that other way– or in Kellie Jo’s article, the tools I don’t have.

    Another thing– I make myself accountable to my kids. I go back, point out what I did and tell them why its wrong, go through the whole conversation *again* and this time, just tell them what I want and give them the freedom this time to say, ‘well gee whiz mom, no way” and make sure they know they can call me on it in the future.

    • I do that too! Or, I did it a lot more often a couple years ago. Believe it or not, practice makes perfect…well, as perfect as a mere human can be 🙂 We all fuss up some conversation at some point, but so long as we TEACH our kids from our mistakes and APOLOGIZE to them sincerely, even our mistakes can be blessings.

  4. When I believed the lie that I had NO control over my own life, my own decisions, my own self
    I lacked SELF control. Rob someone of her dignity and self-determination and don’t be surprised when she acts out in undignified ways.

    Being angry is a sin, right? That was another lie I believed. SO I would stuff and stuff and stuff, then erupt like a volcano. Then I would feel guilty beat myself up mercilessly. I made great progress in my own healing and health when I was able to give myself permission to be angry. Anger is neutral. Even Jesus was angry. Appropriately handled, anger can be a God given force toward freedom from bondage.

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