Domestic Abuse Therapy
What Is the Difference
between Battering and Anger?
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
A turning point insight for people in domestic abuse therapy comes with their understanding the distinction between battering and anger.
They may say, “If battering is off the table and no longer acceptable in my relationship, then what do I do with my anger?” For crying out loud, we all get angry, right? That’s part of being a human being.
But, the issue at hand here is the implied relationship between anger and battering. Are they the same? How are they different?
The Choices of Anger
People who abuse their intimate partners usually believe that anger is expressed through battering, and battering is the expression/manifestation of anger. While this may be their truth, it doesn’t make anger and battering the same. There is always a choice in what we do with our anger.
You can allow the heat of your rage to explode into verbal, emotional or physical striking toward another. Or, you can have it bubble up and explode onto itself. You can channel it into some productive release, or sit with it until it dissipates from within.
You always have a choice in how you experience and express your anger. Even with 30 years of reflexive conditioning around battering being the expression of fury, you can always chose what you are going to do with your anger today.
This understanding is a significant learning concept in domestic abuse therapy. It is the key to cultivating alternative tools for expressing frustration, resentment and rage.
Non Violent Anger
To me the anger-battering relationship all boils down to this one distinction... intention. If you intend to hurt or control another in your fury, then you are battering. The anger fuels the intent to manipulate the underlying power and control dynamics in the relationship.
If, on the other hand, you actively seek to express your anger in a responsible way, no one gets hurt, the angry experience is released and the underlying issue can be resolved. This is essentially non-violent anger. By that I mean the angry experience void of violation…the expression of anger without the intent to inflict harm on another.
If you are a partner in an abusive relationship, whether batterer or abused, be mindful of this distinction. The clearer a batterer is on their choices of anger, the more likely they will reach for a non-violent expression ultimately bringing peace. The clearer the abused is on this distinction, the more likely they are to refrain from assuming responsibility for their partner’s battering behavior.For more information on breaking the cycle of abuse in your marriage, visit
© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.