Psychological Self-Help

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Anger can over-ride our fears that keep us withdrawn and compliant. Anger,
properly utilized, gives us a sense of pride when we exert some control and
improve a bad situation. Non-violent anger used to right wrongs is no vice, it
is a virtue. Naturally, there is a book (Fein, 1993) about harnessing this
powerful emotion for good purposes. 
Dealing with an Aggressive Person
There is no justification for violent aggression, such as spouse, child, or
sibling abuse, criminal assault, rape, bullying, or any other physical harm or
psychological insult to another person. You do not have to be a helpless
"punching bag" or a timid Casper Milquetoast or a frightened scapegoat. You
do not have to hide your feelings. What can you do? Express yourself
assertively (chapter 13), if possible. Of course, if your life is in danger (and it
is if someone is threatening or hitting you!), do whatever helps you reach
safety. The problem is we don't know with any certainty how to protect
ourselves from all grave dangers. For example, some abusive men have killed
their wives for reporting their abuse to the police. Yet, research indicates the
best approach to spouse abuse is to report it while protecting yourself; only
15% of abused wives who reported an assault to police were attacked again
in the next six months, but among those who did not report the abuse 41%
were assaulted again within six months (Lore & Schultz, 1993). All other
things being equal, reporting aggression and abuse is the best thing to do. 
If you are being treated unfairly, you can more effectively correct the
situation by acting decisively and rationally--assertively (see chapter 13)--
than by using angry counter-threats and aggression. Harburg, Blakelock, and
Barchas (1979) called this controlled approach "reflection." Your blood
pressure stays the lowest if you first take enough time for everyone to calm
down and then "set down and reason together." Women use this approach
more than men.
Coping with rape—a horrible and scary crime
It is a hateful, cruel power move. It is terrifying because overwhelming
force and threats are used to the extent that the victim frequently fears for
her life. This fear of dying is not an unreasonable fear because many well
publicized rapes have ended with murder. And some rapists make it clear that
they are in a rage and determined to dominate and degrade the victim. When
you are being threatened with a weapon, knocked or thrown to the floor, and
your clothes are being ripped off... that is terror. It is one of the worst of
human experiences. It is humiliating and embarrassing. It is painful to think
about and tell someone about. So, perhaps, it is not surprising that rape is
reported to the police only 5% of the time; 50% of the time the woman tells
no one. (Other research says only 1/3 of rapes are reported.) It is rightly
considered an atrocious crime. 
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