Domestic Violence vs Anger Management

Domestic Violence Brisbane Queensland

Domestic Violence vs Anger Management. What’s the difference?

I don’t know how many times I have seen written on Probation Orders of a Domestic Violence perpetrator a condition to attend an Anger Management Course. When I was initially employed with Corrective Services, over twenty years ago, this seemed a reasonable request. I imagine for most of the general public who have not been exposed to education about Domestic Violence this continues to seem reasonable. However once you have a good understanding about Domestic Violence and the differences between it and Anger Management this recommendation appears unhelpful at best and can even be harmful as it provides the offender with an excuse and justification to minimise his offending e.g. “I just lost it” or “I can’t control my anger”.

Let me share with you what I have learned about Domestic Violence vs Anger Management.

  1. Poor Anger Management infers a loss of emotional control whereas the ultimate purpose of Domestic Violence is to maintain control within a relationship and involves measures, sometimes premeditated, meant to control and overpower the will of the victim.
  2. A person struggling to manage their anger will be angry in many different situations and with many different people however a Domestic Violence perpetrator will often be charming to others, presenting himself as the ‘good guy’ and will be violent, controlling and domineering towards his partner, usually behind closed doors. This demonstrates that he is able to ‘control’ his anger but chooses not to.
  3. The Domestic Violence perpetrator systematically dominates his victim, removes her self-esteem and self-respect. He terrifies her with a planned campaign of violence, threats, isolation, intimidation, humiliation, guilt and other mental and emotional control tactics. This is usually underpinned by negative beliefs about women gained during life experience and more often than not family of origin. Referring to this as an ‘anger issue’ misses the point completely.

In summary if we want to address the problem of Domestic Violence we need to address the real issue which is Power and Control. We don’t do victims or perpetrators any justice if we simply dismiss the problem as being poor anger management.

Shelley Jacks is a psychologist with over 15 years’ experience treating male perpetrators of domestic violence in a forensic setting. She has experience with risk assessment and presentence reporting in relation to this type of offending.

About the author:

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Shelley Jacks

Shelley has been a psychologist for many years and was employed for ten years by Queensland Corrective Services. She has provided treatment and assessment to the highest risk prisoners in Queensland and has experience treating men and women in prison, many of whom had a mental health condition or a cognitive disability. Shelley has also worked as a psychologist for Queensland Health working in the Acute Young Adult Ward at Robina hospital and at the Acquired Brain Injury Rehabilitation unit at the Gold Coast Hospital. For the past seven years Shelley has been running her own psychology private practice and won a tender to Queensland Corrective Services. She has treated clients with many different mental health conditions including ASD and Intellectual Disability. Over this time Shelley has provided a number of assessments, as a psychologist, for clients which have enabled them to access NDIS funding which has improved their lives immensely. Her interest, over time, in the NDIS grew and she researched this service, its processes and what it was offering to clients in great detail. Shelley’s awareness of the support NDIS was able to offer clients and the enormous benefits it could bring to their lives led her to create Magnus Heath. A business where she could, along with a great team, significantly improve the lives of people living with a disability.

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