It can be very difficult when someone you care about is experiencing problems with anger – especially if they sometimes direct their anger towards you, others close to them or themselves. Just because someone seems very angry, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will become violent or abusive. But if this does happen, the most important thing is to make sure that you are safe.

1.      Stay calm.

Although you probably have a lot of difficult feelings of your own, if you can stay calm it can help to stop anger escalating. Don’t confront someone who is behaving aggressively. If you want to talk to them, wait until the situation has calmed down.

2.      Listen

If you can, allow them time to communicate their feelings without judging them. Often when someone feels that they are being listened to, they are abler to hear other people’s points of view as well. And sometimes just being given permission to communicate angry feelings can be enough to help someone calm down.

3.      Give them space.

If you notice that continuing the conversation is making it worse, give them space to calm down and think. This could be something like going into another room for a while, or spending a few days apart. It’s important to give yourself space as well, so you don’t find yourself getting too angry.

4.      Set boundaries.

While there are lots of reasons why this can be difficult, it’s important to set limits and boundaries. Be clear in advance about what sort of behavior is and isn’t acceptable to you, and think about what action you can take if someone crosses the line. You don’t have to put up with any behavior that makes you feel unsafe or seriously affects your own wellbeing.

5.      Help them identify their triggers.

Is there an event, topic, person or place that seems to trigger his/her anger? Identifying triggers is something you can try when you are both feeling calm, away from any heated situation. Identifying someone’s triggers for anger can help you both think about ways you can avoid triggering situations, and plan how to handle them when they do arise. But try not to be judgmental or accusatory.

6.      Look after your own wellbeing.

It can be difficult at times to support someone else, so make sure you’re looking after your own wellbeing too. Take a break, time out or holiday if you need to. Talk to a friend or professional about what you are going through.

7.      Make a safety plan.

This is helpful if the behavior turns to be abusive or violent. The safety plan includes;

  • Making a list of phone numbers of people, organizations and services that you can call when you need help
  • Arranging to stay at a friends or neighbor’s house until things calm down.; make sure you take your children or other people at risk with you.
  • Have a bag prepared to leave in case of an emergency

8.      Help them seek professional help.

You could help them arrange to see a professional and let them know that will support them through the process.

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