Life-Saving Anger

Jul 9th, 2011 | By | Category: All Posts, Guest Blog

by Patty Hite

Sometimes I feel like I am an advocate for anger. I don’t want others to think that I am an angry old woman, full of bitterness and mad at the world. That is not who I am.  But anger has been a life-saving force and I’m thankful for it.

I spent half of my life being passive. I wondered why there was so much abuse in the world, but I didn’t have the energy or strength to do anything about it. I was sexually abused at a very young age and the older I got, the more I was physically and emotionally abused. There were times when I fought for my life and for my honor, but those times were few and far between. I beat the crap out of some boys who tried to touch my body and called me a bitch because I fought them off.  I chased one boy through the halls at my high school because he lied and said I performed oral sex on him. Once I caught up to him, he recanted and told everyone he lied. Yet, most of the time I cowered down and others abused me without a word or a fight.

By the time I married my abusive first husband, he played me like a puppet and I endured ten years of traumatizing abuse. From the very first smack and rape until I left him many years later, I never raised my voice except to beg for my life. Fighting back was not an option because I knew the punishment would be more than I could endure.

The first sign of anger was when my daughter told me that she was being sexually abused by him, and I plotted my escape. It was anger that motivated me. Since it was my mother’s house, he was forced to leave, but he broke in and stuck a knife to my throat and took my son out of my arms in the middle of the night.

I was devastated and felt like giving up, but anger rose up and I had enough strength to visit every lawyer in our small town and found one who gave me a discounted price to fight for full custody. My ex tormented me constantly with phone calls, threats and tried to run me off the road with his truck. I was afraid for my life and could feel myself wanting to give up the fight. It wasn’t until the day that my daughter came running in the house telling me that my ex tried to run her over in the front yard, that the rage I had been holding in finally took its place of honor.

The tire tracks covered the same place my daughter was playing. I saw him at the end of the road and heard him revving up his engine. I walked into the middle of the road and told myself, “Do or die, I will not live in this fear!” I stood there as he drove towards me. I refused to move and knew that I would rather die than to live like this. He steered away from me within inches of hitting me. It was over. I won. Anger gave me the strength, again.

He moved out of the state and I followed him for a year to try and get my son back. The only way I could track him was through the schools my son would attend. One year and four states later, my ex called and told me to pick up my son. Although I finally won, I know that it was anger that gave me the willpower to fight and to spend everyday, calling every school to track him down.

Years later, anger saved my five year old daughter from cancer. The doctors told me she would die. I remember the moment the doctor told me how severe her leukemia was and I felt a teardrop hit my folded hands. One tear. I was mentally back in my abusive relationship. Defeated and holding back my emotions. I wanted to die, I wanted to give up.  When he was done telling me the bad news, he lifted up my face with his hands and told me that he would never give up. He would do everything he could to keep her alive. His words were like a hammer and chisel. If this man, who is a stranger, will fight then I can too. That night, I re-visited my abuse and the feelings of defeat. I got mad that cancer would dare try to kill my child. I found the strength to fight.

Anger gave me strength to keep family and friends away who were themselves defeated and told me to “Let her go.” Anger gave me strength to run a night-duty doctor out of her room because he told me in front of her that I was in denial and that she was going to die. Anger made me alert to guard what medication was being given to her after a nurse gave her a pill that caused my daughter to hemorrhage in her eye and caused her blindness. Anger gave me the tenacity to fight against the insurance company because they were going to let her die instead of paying for a transplant.  I continued to fight through a bone marrow transplant and those ten years they say cancer can re-occur.

You bet I get angry. Anger is a force of energy for me. It keeps me alert and empowered to fight for myself and others. It’s like a shield that wards off those who try to put me down and it’s like a weapon when I need to conquer. It’s a part of me now and I know that I can call on it anytime I want it. It’s right there, just under the surface ready to be awakened when needed and to give me a helping hand.

Related Links:
The Truth About Blame
What About Forgiveness?
My Parents Are Dead (To Me)
A See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil Frame of Mind

As a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, Patty Hite has been tenaciously pursuing her healing for over thirty years. She’s a passionate advocate for all survivors and dedicates her life to inspiring emotional wholeness in others. As a former victim of spousal abuse, she’s delighted to find true love with her husband of ­­­­five years. She’s blessed with four children and six grandchildren.

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31 comments
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  1. Patty, what an inspiring story. It is about time that anger is shown as a positive force for abuse victims and your story tells it well. I am so glad that anger helped you to survive and fight for you and your family! Telling this story gives hope to those who are afraid of their anger and the hope that they too can learn to express it. Thank you so much for sharing with us.?

  2. Amazing! So glad you were able to stand up to him and others. Anger can be used for good if used in the right way, the way you displayed it! I have been accused of being angry at times, but like you it was the times I was using it to stand up and stop behavior that was harming me, my children, or others. Thanks for sharing, and reminding me my anger is a good emotion when used as you and I have used it!

  3. Awesomeness Patty! Thank you for sharing this…for years – a lifetime – I’d been taught that anger was bad. A negative non emotion that served only to show how weak I was. Anger was punished and denied. It was only when I began to see anger and part of the very normal human experience and part of my own natural human responses that I saw that anger was trying to teach me about healthy boundaries. Great post and much needed discussions. Thanks Patty!

  4. Patty,
    I think you are an advocate for anger since you’re an advocate for survivors. Anger is a necessary emotion for life and especially for healing. It was what helped me countless times to transition into the truth; it was like a hallway that helped me get to the right room. Thank you so much for sharing this!
    Hugs, Christina

  5. Linda,

    Thank you. It’s hard to imagine sometimes, just how much anger has saved my life and the life of others, I needed to protect. When I think of how easy it would have been to give up because others told me to, I can also counteract that and remember how much fighting the fight, fueled by anger, has kept me going. I’m alive, my daughters alive, my son was returned to me. yeah. I’m going to keep anger as a tool. We all need it.

    Love ya, Patty

  6. Cheryl,

    Yes, keep your anger. It is a good thing and a much needed emotion. It’s a force that empowers us. When people tell me to not get angry, I tell them I need anger as much as I need love and joy and all my other emotions. They are there for a purpose and I plan on using them all. Thanks so much for sharing,

    ((hug)) Patty

  7. Susan,

    I could never understand how expressing our anger is a sign of weakness. I always felt so weak because I never got angry. I beat myself up emotionally because without the anger, I didn’t have the strength to fight back. I question those now, who look at us because we get angry about abuse. I mean, what is that all about? I don’t understand why they, our family and friends, aren’t angry? It gets easier to address people like that now. Being told to stop being angry about abuse is like being told to not breath. Wow, I have come a long way!!! Thanks so much for sharing,

    ((hugs)) Patty

  8. Christina,

    Thank you!! Your words are always so encouraging and I appreciate you. Being a part of OSA and being given an opportunity to share my experiences, even on the taboo subject of anger, has helped me so much. I think we should start an “Anger Party.” It could be like a pajama party, but bring your own throw pillows and we can all express our anger at our abusers. Chanting as we hit the pillows, “I am allowed to be angry.”

    Love you, Patty

  9. Thank you for your courage and your story . I too was abused very early in my life and anger fueled my life to always take care of my children,family,friends and in justice . However, I am finding it incredible hard to take care of my self now.. Everyone grown or gone to home to be with the Lord . We can fight for others how do we just keep going for ourselves !

    Thank you again God Bless

  10. Thank you. This is just what I need to read. Saving my life, over and over again. Spirit wins!

  11. Julie,

    I had to start loving myself and realizing that I am important too. Pouring ourselves into out loved ones is a great thing, but doing the same for us is hard. I felt like I didn’t deserve self care. It wasn’t until I got angry at how much I was left out and neglected by others that I finally decided I was valuable too.

    The best thing I ever did for myself was to value myself. I had to find the root of why I didn’t. It started as a child in a dysfunctional home, but grew as I became an adult and kept hanging and holding onto toxic people. Once I found out the root, then I started to tell myself that I was valuable. That I deserve good things. It’s ok if I cook what I want, it’s ok if I watch the shows I want to watch, it’s ok if I say no. ((hug)) Patty

  12. Thank you Catherine!!!

  13. Patty, love what you said about “valuing yourself” (My Self). That’s what I am going to work on. It’s so hard since so few ever did but I can teach this old dog new tricks! My spirit is still young. Gracias, amiga!

  14. Good for you Catherine!! it’s never too late and every second you spend on yourself and for yourself has the greatest return. You can do it.

  15. Yes, yes, yes! :-D

    Just last week, I was talking with my doctor, with whom I’ve been working for 22 years. I have been feeling a lot of anger lately — at injustice, at behaviour, which I always make sure to differentiate from being.

    My doctor said, “I like your anger! … and I like your …”

    “Spunk?” I said.

    “Yes! I like your spunk!”

    Anger is a force of good, when it is directed with no intention to harm …

    Bless you and your strength, Patty :-)

  16. Jaliya,

    I like your doctor!!

    And it does give us spunk. I like that. Thank you for your kind words, and anger on!!

    Patty

  17. Patty, your story may have just given me the will to embrace the anger that’s lived deep inside of me all of my life. I was always afraid to express anger and was taught that anger was evil and not a good emotion because of what I experienced at home. Now I know differenlty. Thank you for practically saving my life.

  18. When I finally got angry (and I mean REALLY angry) lo and behold… my depression disappeared! Then I had to learn to deal with my rage, and I learned how to pray. Then I was finally alright. Took a number of years… LONG years, and it wasn’t quick or easy, but the more I learn to express myself, even if it’s just to myself, the better off I am. I was raised that anger – MY anger – was a “mortal sin.” My father or mother’s anger was of course “completely justified” and of course “all my fault.” So I learned to stay away from the rage-making nut cases that are devils in disguise. When I have no toxic contact (meaning no contact at all) I find myself AT PEACE.

    No more rattlesnake bites, self-inflicted by being around those snakes!

    And through it all, the very best part, is that I have learned how to pray. If I didn’t, that anger would have consumed me and taken me out.

    Thank you God please show me The Way. I put my spiritual life in your hands, and expect the best possible outcome when I practice patience and prayer. Thank you for saving me throughout all the trials and tortures I have been through, and all the miracles and peace to come. The spiritual life is an EMOTIONAL life, and we ask that you grant us peace in the living of it. Forgive those that I cannot forgive and grant me peace in the world. Grant peace to the world. Gracias, Dios. Amen.

  19. Thank you Chris for putting into words what I couldn’t express about anger. Yours and Patty’s words inspired me! CT

  20. Chris,

    I’m so glad the blog was a help to you. That is my heart. That by sharing my experiences, it can help other Survivors. ((hug))

    When I tell others that I appreciate anger, they look at me like I’m nuts, but for someone who was afraid to express anger in any way, I am proud of how far I have come in validating my anger. I am not one to have a sour puss face on. Considering where I have been emotionally, my life is full of joy and happiness. So to walk around bitter and angry is not me. But I do get angry when I need to be.

    Being in a violent relationship many years ago, I refused to get angry and show my anger, because I knew I would pay a big price for doing that. Regretfully, I also showed my children how to hide their anger. But being determined to overcome the fear of anger has changed my life as well as theirs. To not be afraid of it, is a tremendous step and to feel the freedom to use anger, is life changing to me.

    I am one who believes that all emotions are in us for a reason. And to try and squash any one of them, can be an unbalancing of who we are suppose to be. Sometimes, our emotions are not expressed properly, but they are valuable and needed for us to be whole.

    Thanks again Chris, for sharing and “Anger on!” ((hug))

  21. Catherine,

    Thank you for sharing. I can so relate to how you were raised about anger. Fear being the source and from my childhood. Being around fear oriented leaders at my church didn’t help this situation, as I was in the same place as I was as a child. Hold my anger in, and I hurt myself. Express it, and I hurt God.

    I am so glad I have found the balance in using anger. I am much better all around. No more depression and no more sin. Whew. Took a long time, but worth every second of getting to the root of the whys and whatnots of being afraid of expressing my anger. I very seldom get angry, but when I do, I feel validated in being angry. Fear does not rule me nor control me, any longer.

    Thanks again for sharing. As always, I appreciate your wise and kind words. ((hug))

  22. Thank you…. we spent last week in our sex abuse support group giving permission to HAVE ANGER/ BE ANGRY!..

    Anger is right
    anger is appropriate

    GOD IS AN ANGRY GOD… and think his heart gets broken that so few people get angry!

  23. Kimberly,

    I’m so glad you are involved with a support group, and even more, that they are talking about anger and telling you that you have permission to be angry. Anger is right and I am so glad that I found the right to express it when needed. Hooray for you. I know how vital and important it is for our emotional health to understand it.

    Patty

  24. Thank you much for discussing the role of anger in healing. My husband began sexually abusing me at seventeen and only in this last couple of months have I really been able to let the anger out. It’s scary, though, because the anger came out at people that didn’t deserve it. I am now working to try to channel the anger correctly, as well as to heal.

  25. Deborah,

    I’m so glad you are expressing your anger. It was hard for me too, to reign it in and many friends and family members suffered my wrath because of it. But, I did my apologies and started letting my anger out on things that didn’t bleed. Once I was able to hit things, yelling at the same time, I started to feel so much better. It’s like a volcano erupting, but it was the best thing I could ever do for myself. It takes time, but we can control it and use it productively.

    Thanks for sharing and I’m so sorry your husband crossed those boundaries. ((hug))

  26. [...] Related Posts:Forget About It! Straight Talk To Parents About Protecting Their Children From Abuse What About Forgiveness? The Truth About Blame Life-Saving Anger [...]

  27. Patty,

    I relate to you in so many ways. Thank you so much for fighting the good fight….I really need this type of “fuel” to keep me going. Bless you!!
    Cara

  28. Cara,

    It is fuel, isn’t it. It is so empowering to know that we have the right to get angry and to fight back, if needed. I’m so glad this blog spoke to you. And you keep fighting the good fight too. We are in this together!!!

    Patty

  29. Patty ,
    Your story gave me power .You are so brave , thnx for sharing it .

  30. Martha, I’m glad it stirred up the strength that is in you. You are brave also. It takes a lot of courage to seek answers. ((hug)) Patty

  31. People forget that even Jesus got angry. Do you think He just told the moneychangers in the temple to have a nice day? Hell, no!

    He had some pretty harsh words for other people, too, like when He said that anyone who would lead a little child astray would be better off with a millstone around his neck. For the people who are coming here because someone treated them like dirt as children, and still feel pressured to love and make peace with their abusers, think about that. You don’t have to be morally or ethically led astray by abuse, in my opinion; just being made to believe warped things about your self-worth or the “normalcy” of sexual abuse (“Everyone does it”) is enough.

    Hate and anger are the flipside of love. There is the side of love that is kind and tender to whatever it is that you love, and there is the side that is fierce, vicious, and fearsome towards anyone or anything that threatens its safety and integrity. Barbed wire on the outside, a safe and gentle place on the inside.

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