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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I stop myself being violent to my wife?

    I'm 29 years old, I have a partner and 2 son's under 2.

    Sometimes when we argue everything spirals out of control and I end up lashing out physically.

    Before I do, I feel angry because I'm frustrated that I'm not heard. It feels like I have it building up inside of me and I just need to let it out.

    After I feel stupid and sorry and like an idiot who can't control himself.

    I've tried to walk away sometimes and that helps but sometimes she blocks me in a room and I lash out yet again.

    I've tried taking a deep breath and explaining that I'm feeling angry but when it's happening we're both angry and it sometimes, yet again, feels like I'm not being heard.

    I don't hit, I grab her and try to stop her talking physically, I push her away or grab her arms and push her to the opposite wall.

    I hurt her when I do this and I've never wanted to do this to anyone especially the ones I love.

    Who can I talk to to get help?
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    Jeremy Barbouttis

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist, Sex Therapist

    Jeremy is an expert in Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, Sex Therapy, Relationships & Addictions. Jeremy is a Clinical Supervisor with the Australian Hypnotherapists Association.Specialisations: Stop Smoking Hypnosis, ... View Profile

    Taking steps to get help is very important, as you are quite rightly identifying that the arguing is spiralling to the point of violence and physical handling. Finding the right person to talk to, someone you trust, would be a good starting point and the start of a catalyst for change. However, as this kind of behaviour is new for you in the relationship, you may wish to look at it from a relationship perspective. This might mean you can look at the problem together in the context of a relationship problem that is spiralling out of control. In either case, most counsellors or hypnotherapists should be able to assist you with tools and techniques, and work through the triggers for the outbursts and angry build-up. Someone who specialises in relationships would be able to offer couples counselling and therapy if you decided to take that perspective to resolving the concern. They could help you to identify the actual problem and both of you can learn to overcome what is causing these outbursts.

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    With a passion to see people move forward and break free from the barriers holding them back, Grant is a highly experienced counsellor with over ... View Profile

    Good on you for recognising how your anger is impacting your relationships with your and kids. Although you haven't hit your wife I'd still consider this domestic violence because when you are angry like that it will be intimidating to your wife and kids. This is a very good time time to act before your relationship breaks down or someone gets really hurt, or worse. I have worked with many men in your situation and I have found groups are the most effective at helping them understand and change their behaviour. In a group you don't feel like you are the ‘only one’, you can also support and help one another and learn from one another.  

    The other positive aspect of a group is that it puts the focus on you, not on your wife. This might sound tough because she might say and do things that ‘tick you off’ but YOU need to learn to control your thoughts, feelings and actions no matter what she does. Once you are more in control of yourself you can look at your couple issues. Often men play the blame game, “if she didn't ……. I wouldn't get angry” all this does is make things worse and prolongs the pain and frustration for everyone. Find a mens group that deals with domestic violence and work hard at getting in control of you. Don't let fear, pride or shame stop you - man up, bite the bullet and do what needs to be done to get yourself sorted. 

    It is well worth getting on top of this because it is affecting your children, while they don't understand what is going on they will feel scared - I remember one guy who did a course I ran and he came in one night and told us that his 8 year old came up to him and said he wasn't afraid of him anymore - how good is that?

    In Sydney Lifecare Counselling and Relationships Australia run courses other wise Google your area or phone your local Community Health cente and ask them if they know of men's groups dealing with domestic violence. There is a good book by a Kiwi guy that you might be able to get at your library or Google - Feeling Angry, Playing Fair by  Ken McMAster, it is well worth a read. 

    Take action, be honest, work hard and look forward to more positive relationships.

    All the best. 

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    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about ... View Profile

    Well done - you clearly recognize that this is a serious problem and are taking the courageous step of reaching out for help. Although your violent outbursts are affecting your relationship, you have rightly realized that your reactions are not your partners's responsibility. It will be very important that you get the support you need to ensure that no matter what stressors are happening in your life, you do not react by using violence.

    Be careful, though, not to hold your partner accountable for your behaviour - saying “She blocks me in a room and I lash out again,” or telling her that if she doesn't listen to you it's inevitable that you will become violent might imply that she needs to change rather than you. This type of thinking can take you down a slippery slope that justifies violent behaviour and makes another person responsible for your choice to act in that way.

    It may well be that it is worth looking at relationship issues together - however this can only happen at a point where your partner feels confident that no matter what, you will not choose to respond with violence when you feel upset. Violence is not a relationship issue, but something to be worked on individually.
    Grant has mentioned some excellent support services available in Sydney. If you are in Victoria, a great place to start would be at the Men's Referral Service http://mrs.org.au
    They have great online resources, and you can also ring and have a chat with them to get some initial support, and also advice about where to find further help.
    All the best.

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