By Charles H. Elliott, Laura L. Smith, W. Doyle Gentry

When you’re confronted by a loved one’s anger, clearly the anger is the major problem. But anger isn’t a reason to feel like a helpless victim. To keep that from happening, try the following:

  • Get help. Your friends and family are great resources. But, when dealing with an angry loved one, they can’t give you an objective perspective. You can get objectivity from a therapist, counselor, or psychologist.

  • Hang on to your sense of hope. When you’re faced with an angry loved one, it’s easy to fall into a trap of hopelessness. To keep hope intact, try spending some time with a supportive friend who can remind you that you’re not a worthless person.

  • Do something, anything, to avoid feeling a sense of helplessness.

  • Use the support resources at your disposal to keep yourself safe. If you need a “safe house,” this isn’t the time to be bashful — call a friend and ask for sanctuary. Call a lawyer and ask for advice. Call the police, if necessary, and ask for protection. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has trained personnel at 1-800-799-7233.

  • Be assertive. Find your voice and speak up for yourself. Remind yourself that you have a right to be treated with respect and restraint — and the last thing you need is to be someone else’s verbal or physical punching bag! There’s a big difference between telling your angry loved one, “I can’t stand it when you treat me like this!” and saying, “I won’t stand for that kind of behavior anymore.” Cant has to do with ability; wont indicates a sense of will.

  • Be honest with yourself — admit that you have a problem. As long as you deny the reality of a loving-but-angry relationship, you’re stuck. You have to acknowledge a problem before you can hope to solve it.