What can friends and family do to help?

This section is for friends and family of someone who is experiencing problems with anger.

“I heard him kick off in the kitchen, throwing things and shouting, and I just froze in fear. He has said before that I should not worry, because he would never harm a person. But at the point when he is doing irrational things, breaking stuff and even causing harm to himself in the process, it is clear he has lost control and so anything can happen. If only he would talk about his feelings before they build up and boil over.”

It can be very difficult if someone you care about is experiencing problems with anger. It can be particularly hard if this results in them being violent. You might want to show the person that you care about them, but might also want them to be able to manage their anger. Supporting the person in trying to resolve their anger is important but, ultimately, it is up to them to find a solution.

If they do get angry, it is probably best to give them some time and space to calm down.

When the person is calm, it may be useful to talk about the triggers that cause them to become angry and what you should do when this happens.

You could encourage them to seek help from a counsellor or psychotherapist.

If someone becomes violent, the most important thing is to make sure that you are safe before doing anything to try and help them. You may want to put in place a ‘safety plan’. This could include keeping a list of phone numbers of people or organisations/services you can call if you are scared; arranging to ‘hole up’ in a friend’s or neighbour’s house until things are calm; having a bag prepared to leave in an emergency.

You may feel worried about asking for help when a friend or family member is violent. An option could be to approach your family doctor or talk to one of the organisations listed in ‘Useful Contacts’. They are specially trained for dealing with this type of situation and usually have very strict confidentiality rules in place to prioritise your safety, including several ways you can contact them.

If the person you are concerned about has a mental health problem, this is likely to make supporting them more difficult and you need to ensure that you get support for yourself.

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