How to help a loved one deal with violent tendencies

Encounters with violent people are thankfully rare, but as you make your way through life, you’ll inevitably have to deal with someone who exhibits behaviour that threatens your safety.

This could be during a night out or within the workplace, but for some, it can even take place at home.

If someone close to you exhibits violent tendencies, dealing with their rising, unpredictable temper will put significant strain on your relationship and potentially put you at risk of harm.

Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to help, and in this blog we take a look at the most effective.

The first step: recognising there’s a problem

Often, the hardest part of this process is broaching the subject and encouraging your family member or close friend to admit something is seriously wrong.

A loved one who acts violently isn’t being themselves. It might be down to a personal crisis, injury, history of trauma or medical condition they’ve not informed you about, but whatever the reason for their uncharacteristic about-turn, your actions might be key to reversing the situation.

If previous trauma is suggested as the reason for their violent behaviour, try and lead them down the path of professional help. Connecting your friend or family member with support of this kind will offer the best chance of a positive outcome.

If you encounter resistance or reluctance to accept there’s a problem, however, you could also consider bringing someone in to help whom the person in question holds in high regard. If your loved one thinks highly of that person, they’re more likely to listen.

3 ways to help someone you love deal with violent tendencies

1. Don’t judge – try to understand

Once you’ve convinced the person that you want to help them, it’s important to prove this by not judging their behaviour.

There’s a reason they’re so angry, and if you can work with them to understand the root cause you’ll be far more likely to get to the bottom of it.

What lies behind their anger? Are they depressed? Has something happened elsewhere that you’re unaware of? Or do they simply need someone to talk to without feeling they’re being judged?

This conversation won’t take place easily and may take several attempts to get to the heart of the matter – just be patient and make sure you persist, gently.

2. Help them find healthier ways to relieve anger

Encouraging physical exercise may help your loved one overcome their anger.

A trip to the gym to metaphorically ‘hit’ the weights, a literal whack of a punchbag or a simple head-clearing 5K jog around the block might be all they need to do regularly to get the worst of the anger out of their system.

Physical exercise, deep breathing and progressive relaxation are all respected methods for anger management that are recommended by professionals. And you can do this kind of stuff together, thus strengthening your relationship and make them more inclined to let you in on what’s really troubling them.

3. Remember it’s not your fault

Violence on someone else’s behalf is never your fault, but that might not stop your loved one from pinning their behaviour on you.

Something you’re doing; something you’re not doing; a recent event in which you were involved; an overheard conversation; the reasons given can be numerous, but none of them reflect the real reason for the person’s anger.

It’ll come as a shock to be told you’re the apparent source of their rage, but remember that the person telling you this is entirely responsible for their own actions.

Stay level-headed in such situations, remain safe and remind yourself that it’s never your fault.

Final thought

The above advice isn’t guaranteed to work for your loved one but will give you the best chance of getting to the bottom of what’s going on and setting a clear path towards their recovery.

Just remember the golden rule: if you ever feel like you’re in danger during an encounter with a violent individual (no matter how close they are to you), make an exit as swiftly as possible and seek help from the authorities.

If you’re living with violence and need to talk to someone, we’re here for you.

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