Tag Archives: anger

FOCUS ON: Rape – Reactions to Rape

The following excerpt has been taken from “The Road to Recovery: You & Rape” – created and distributed by the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust. You can download the complete booklet in English, Afrikaans or isiXhosa, from their website: rapecrisis.org.za

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Each person copes with trauma in a different way, depending on her or his circumstances. How long your journey to recovery takes will depend on many things, including your situation and how supportive the people around you are. If you are worried that negative feelings are lasting too long or becoming overwhelming, you might consider getting help. It’s important to remember that there are people who can help you, such as a rape counsellor, social worker, psychologist, clinic sister or even a family member or a friend you can trust.

Partners, parents or friends and family members may not know how to respond to you, and may even share some of your feelings about the rape. They can also choose to go for counselling so that they can learn to understand their own feelings and how to offer you more support.

On the other hand, people around you might need to distance themselves from what happened to you because, although it could happen to them too, they don’t want to believed that. Some people might not be supportive, because they themselves live with men who rape, or because It has happened to them and they don’t want you to remind them of their own painful experiences. The truth is that not everyone around you will be supportive, and you may feel alone in dealing with some things. However, you don’t have to be alone on your journey along the road to recovery – there are signposts that can help you on your way.

Phases of Recovery

The first signpost along the road to recovery is realising that there is a pattern to how most people progress or move through the trauma of rape. However these phases don’t follow on neatly from one to another; you may move backwards and forwards through the phases as you work through the trauma.

There is no single way to recover; your journey is unique. With good support, people can recover from rape, but many people choose not to get support and not to tell anyone about what happened. The following phases can also be seen in people who do not go for counselling:

Acute Phase

Immediately after the rape, most survivors feel shock, dismay, fear, panic and anger. Some survivors show this by being numb or dazed, others by being openly upset. You would probably react this way in the first few hours, days and weeks after the rape, but usually not longer than two weeks afterwards. This is the first phase of the crisis. It is called the acute phase because it is so intense. Many survivors are unable to talk about the rape. You might have nightmares and feel shocked, guilty, afraid, ashamed, powerless, angry, depressed and afraid of being touched. These feelings can be overwhelming.

Outward Adjustment Phase

In this phase, most survivors try to carry on with their lives as normal. To anyone looking at you from the outside, you may seem to be coping. You might even feel this way yourself. You need to go through this phase to reassure yourself that you can cope. During this phase, you test your ability to survive the experience. You may use all kinds of different ways of coping, such as pretending the rape didn’t happen or pushing thoughts and feelings away.

In this phase, rape survivors are usually not open to coming for counselling. You tend to feel a lot less troubled than during the acute phase, but you may not want to speak about the rape very much. This can be difficult for those close to you who wish to be helpful and think they can do that by getting you to talk. They may feel frustrated if you don’t want to talk or they may put pressure on you to behave differently. You might find that during this phase what you really need is for people to let you be.

Integration Phase

During the integration phase, the part of you that felt overwhelmed by intense emotions during the acute phase and the part of you that felt almost nothing during the outward adjustment phase come together. The intense feelings start to come back, but less overwhelming than before. You may begin to feel depressed or anxious and start thinking about the rape when you least expect to. This is the time when you might wish to talk a bit more about what happened. You might start having nightmares again and feel shocked, guilty, afraid, ashamed, powerless, angry, depressed and afraid of being touched or of being alone. You may well find that you cannot function the way you used to. You may also start to think about the rapist more.

Many survivors in this phase believe their feelings mean they have serious emotional problems or are going mad. This is a good time to go for counselling because it can give you support and comfort, with respect for what you are going through. You can also get information about what you are going through in the form of psycho-education. Psycho-education helps you and people close to you understand and deal with the feelings you have. Also, your counsellor will help you find your own strengths, resources and coping skills, so that you learn to be a part of your own recovery and contribute to your health and wellness on a long-term basis. The better the knowledge you have about what you’re going through, the better you can live with it and share it.

Renewal Phase

You begin to make sense of the trauma and to feel safer in the world. During this phase your symptoms will ease off or disappear. The memory of the rape will not have the same effect on you. You may start to feel good about life again. You may still feel emotional at times, but overall you will feel more in control and able to move forward.

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Common Feelings or Reactions to Rape

During the first two phases, many people report feeling or experiencing:

  • Shock
  • Guilt
  • Powerlessness and a loss of control
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • An inability to speak about the rape
  • Nightmares
  • A fear of touching
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Grief about loss
  • The desire to use drugs and alcohol
  • The desire to hurt themselves, for example by cutting themselves
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings

For information on common feelings and reactions to rape please visit the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust website at: http://rapecrisis.org.za/ – alternatively download “The Road to Recovery: You & Rape” booklet from http://rapecrisis.org.za/rape-in-south-africa/you-rape-booklet/


Reference:

Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust. (2011). Reactions to Rape. In The Road to Recovery: You and Rape (pp. 41 – 51). [Online available from: http://rapecrisis.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/you-and-rape-booklet-english.pdf [Accessed: 21 July 2015].


Need Help?

Please refer to the Need Help? page on the menu bar, select either Student Support Referral List OR Student Counselling for more information on where to access help. 

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FOCUS ON: Self-Harm – Understanding Self-Harm (Part 1)

Self-harm is a common problem and secret many people struggle with on a daily basis. It is often treated as a “taboo” subject and as a result is largely misunderstood and misrepresented. 

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The purpose of this Focus On series is to help you better understand what self-harming is, why it happens, how to cope with it, and how to break its destructive cycle.

What is self-harm?

It may sound contradictory and is often difficult for non-self-harmers to understand, but in most cases self-harm is used as a way to deal with intense emotional pain and distress. The use of physical pain helps the person distract themselves from the emotional pain they are experiencing. People who self-harm often speak of the sense of release it brings them, that it makes them feel alive during times when they are so emotionally numb, nothing else can get through to them.

Self-harmers are often accused of being attention seeking and manipulative. However in the majority of cases those who self-harm tend to do so secretively, doing all they can to hide their scars and bruises. This in turn creates an additional emotional burden in that it slowly starts affecting all aspects of their lives: what they can wear, what kind of activities and sports they can partake in, relationships with both friends and family. The “solution” which is meant to bring relief soon creates new problems and stress and so an addictive behaviour pattern can develop.

The term “self-harm” is just one name for the habitual and deliberate infliction of pain as a form of emotional and psychological release; it is also referred to as: self-inflicted violence, self-mutilation and self-abuse. Regardless of the label used the most common forms of harm or injury used include:

  • cutting
  • severe scratching of skin
  • burning
  • scalding
  • banging or hitting your body
  • hair pulling
  • intentionally picking at wounds and preventing them from healing
  • sticking objects into or through the skin
  • swallowing poisonous substances or objects

Self-harm also includes less deliberate or conscious forms of hurt or danger such as: reckless driving, binge drinking, drug abuse, and unsafe sexual practices.

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Who self-harms?

Self-harming is a common problem among 11 – 25 year olds, with the average age of onset being 12. There is no “typical self-harmer”, girls are 4 times more likely than boys to self-harm – meaning that boys and young men are not immune to it, but are more likely to hit or bruise themselves so people often dismiss the signs as being the result of an accident or fight.

Certain groups have been identified as being more vulnerable to self-harm:

  • children & young people with learning disabilities
  • children & young people living in residential settings i.e. prison, shelters, hostels and boarding school
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender young people

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Why do people self-harm?

Self-harm is used as a coping mechanism by young people who are unable to express their feelings, guilt, sadness, anger, emptiness or rage in more healthy ways. For these young people self-harm helps them to:

  • express their feelings, which they often cannot put into words
  • give them a sense of control over their lives
  • release pent up pain and tension
  • relieve guilt and punish themselves
  • feel alive, feel something, rather than feeling emotionally numb and disconnected
  • distract them from difficult life circumstances or overwhelming emotions

Precipitating issues which are often linked to self-harming include:

  • poor family and / or parental relationships
  • bullying
  • stress and worry – often school related
  • feeling isolated
  • problems related to sexuality
  • divorce
  • self-harm or suicide of a close friend or relative
  • problems related to race, culture or religion
  • low self-esteem
  • abuse: physical, sexual or emotional (both past and / or current)
  • unwanted pregnancy
  • bereavement
  • feeling of being rejected socially or within the family

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References:

Richardson, C. (2012). The Truth About Self-Harm: For Young People and Their Friends and Families [Booklet]. United Kingdom: Mental Health Foundation.

Segal, J. & Smith, M. (2015). Cutting and Self-Harm: Self-Injury Help, Support, and Treatment. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/cutting-and-self-harm.htm. [Accessed on: 05 May 2015].

 

FOCUS ON: Anger Management – An Introduction

We live in a society where, all too often, the go-to response to anything or anyone who gets in the way of what we want is: anger. 

A car cuts you off in the traffic…anger

Lecturer locks you out of class for being 15 minutes late…anger

Parents won’t buy you the latest shoes / gadget … anger

Anger is a normal, healthy emotion but when it starts hijacking your life and becomes your automatic response to any and every situation it’s a sign that you need to start looking at the real reason for your anger and how to manage it.

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What is Anger?

Anger is an emotional state which varies in intensity. It is both normal and healthy to experience anger in response to events or circumstances in which you have been unfairly treated or there’s a perceived threat. The feeling of being angry is neither good nor bad; rather, when it comes to anger, what is important is how you express it, experience it and what you do with it. When anger results in you either harming yourself or someone else, be it physically or emotionally, there is a problem.

Myths about Anger

Myth: It’s healthy to vent my anger and get it all out.

Fact: Suppressing or ignoring anger is not healthy, however venting it is not any better either. Anger does not have be “let out” in an aggressive manner in order for you to avoid “blowing up” or “going crazy”. In fact, by allowing your anger to be expressed in an aggressive rant or outburst you are merely reinforcing your anger and the feelings that come with it.

Myth: Anger, aggression and intimidation earn me respect and get me what I want.

Fact: Never confuse bullying with having power. People who use aggression to get what they want may be feared but they are never respected. People are more willing to listen to you and accommodate your needs if you communicate with them in a respectful and calm manner.

Myth: I have no control over my anger, it just happens.

Fact: You can’t always control your environment, how it impacts on you and how it makes you feel, but you can control how you express your emotions in response to it. You always have a choice in how you decide to respond to a situation – you can effectively express your anger without having to resort to verbal or physical abuse.

Myth: Anger management is about suppressing your feelings.

Fact: Anger is a natural response and will come out in one form or another regardless of how hard you try to suppress it. Anger management is a tool whereby you become aware of your emotional and physical reactions to situations and the underlying feelings and responses they evoke. The purpose of anger management is to learn different ways of expressing your anger and frustration which are both healthier and constructive.

Source: Segal, R. & Smith, M. (2014). Anger Management: Tips & Techniques for Getting Anger Under Control. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/anger-management.htm

Why is Anger Management Important?

People express their anger in different ways. Not everyone expresses their anger in a loud, cursing and throwing of things manner; instead there are some who express a constant, simmering irritability and grumpiness, and there are those who withdraw and sulk or even become physically ill.

People who are easily angered are believed to have a lower tolerance for frustration. Simply put, they cannot cope with being subjected to frustration, inconvenience or annoyance. They find it difficult to take such things in their stride, and become particularly upset when they consider a situation to be unjust.

Regardless of whether you are genetically predisposed to being an “angry person” or you’ve learnt to rely on it as way of getting what you want; poor anger management can lead to the breakdown of relationships and impaired judgement. Out-of-control anger harms your:

  • physical health – constantly operating in a state of stress and tension is bad for your health. Chronic (constant or recurring frequently) anger increases your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and  unhealthy cholesterol. It can also result in a weakened immune system and insomnia.
  • mental health – Chronic anger uses up huge amounts of mental energy and can interfere with your thinking and judgment, making it harder to concentrate and enjoy life. Unmanaged anger can lead to depression, stress and other mental health problems.
  • studies and career – Constructive criticism, creative differences and debates are healthy and necessary to help you grow as a student and employee. However, verbally abusing or lashing out at a peer, lecturer, colleague, parent or client both alienates the person and lessens their respect for you. In addition to this, you will earn a reputation for being “hard to work with”, “unable to take criticism”, “unpleasant” etc. which will follow you and make it harder for you to succeed in life.
  • relationships –  there is a saying “Taste your words before you spit them out“; once something has been said (or done), it can never be unsaid or taken back resulting in deep or even permanent damage to friendships and relationships. Chronic anger results in people perceiving you as being untrustworthy, they will struggle to address issues with you out of fear of your reaction and may even feel uncomfortable being around you.

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In the next instalment of the FOCUS ON: Anger Management series we will be looking at strategies and tips to manage you temper


References:

American Psychological Association. (2015). Controlling Anger Before it Controls You. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx [Accessed on: 08 April 2015].

Segal, R. & Smith, M. (2014). Anger Management: Tips & Techniques for Getting Anger Under Control. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/anger-management.htm [Accessed on: 08 April 2015].

Marijuana: Dependence and Addiction

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Physical Dependence vs. Addiction:

Physical dependence refers to when a drug user’s body normalizes / gets used to the presence of the drug; thus the user only “functions normally” when the drug is used and present in the body. Physical dependence is common with the chronic / prolonged use of marijuana. Withdrawal symptoms (physical symptoms when the dosage of a drug is seriously lowered or abruptly interrupted) can be experienced by those who are physically dependent on marijuana.

Addiction refers to behaviours which meet the criteria for substance dependence as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  The addict’s mind does not accept abstinence (non-use) from the drug of choice and consciously forces the user to get more of the drug or even to increase the usage and amount of the drug so as to intensify the effect. Addictive behaviour is characterised by a pre-occupation, compulsive need to use a drug. Addiction is psychological in nature whereas physical dependence is a condition which can be overcome following a period of withdrawal.

Physical Dependence and Addiction to Marijuana:

Clinical evidence shows that marijuana withdrawal symptoms manifest following a period of dependency and that marijuana users qualify for diagnostic criteria of addiction.

Many find it hard to equate marijuana with addiction especially with its increasing use as a medicinal and recreational drug. However, the following is a list of the most common physical signs of marijuana dependence and addiction:

  • aggression
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • craving
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty sleeping
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • raise in temperature
  • restlessness
  • sweating

Exposure to marijuana has physical, biological, mental, behavioural and social consequences. The decision whether or not to use marijuana will always be a personal one. 

Please refer to the Policies page of this blog for BMH’s Student Policy on the Possession, Use and Distribution of Illicit Substances (including marijuana).


Adapted from: 

Physical Addiction to Marijuana – Addictionblog.org and Dependence on Marijuana – Addictionblog.org