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Why They Lash Out…

Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone’s anger; anger that has nothing to do with you, but for some reason is being taken out on you? Has someone you know and love ever gotten in your face, called you names, made fun of you, and resorted you to tears for no apparent reason?  You stand there, bewildered, confused, and scared as this person says some of the most hurtful things you could ever imagine.

Questions begin running through your head:

“What in the world did I do to deserve this?”

“Is it my fault that they are this angry?”

“Is it true what they are saying about me? Am I really a no good piece of trash?”

If you are anything like me, you will stand there, take the verbal abuse, and make excuses for it later. You will somehow justify this verbal beat down, find a way in your head to make yourself responsible for this outburst, and hope that it never happens again.  You spend the next few days walking around on eggshells, deeply terrified of antagonizing this person again and risking being subjected to the verbal diarrhea you previously endured.

Everyone is entitled to a few blow-ups during their lives. It’s bound to happen; the stresses of life, kids, and career catches up to everyone at some point and I think that it is perfectly healthy to vent and release some steam once in a while.  But there is a difference between having an angry moment and resorting to getting into someone’s face and demeaning them to the point of tears just to make yourself feel better.

I have always said that my mother’s mental and emotional abuse was far more damaging to me than any of her hits, chokes, kicks, or punches. I would have rather taken a thousand more beatings than to have her hateful words enter my brain.  Bruises heal, but the mind never forgets.

Those who have lived in abusive situations like mine understand the constant panic you live under on a daily basis and how careful you try to be to avoid the angry, face-spitting outbursts your abuser will inflict on you for even the slightest infraction. The outbursts come out of nowhere and come at you so fast that you are left standing there afterwards with your head spinning and confusion written all over your face.

One of the most emotionally wounding things that can happen to a person is when someone you love is in your face, screaming at you so loudly that spit is coming out of their mouth, hurling insults towards you, and purposely trying to make you cry. When I was a child, I could be sitting on the couch watching a television show, keeping to myself, and Mom would enter the room in a “mood”.  A “mood” that had nothing to do with me, but was going to be taken out on me.

When I was a child, I would blame myself for Mom’s outbursts, blame myself for the names she called me, and worst of all, believe the things she said to me out of anger. The names she called me and the horrible things she said about me and my body, I took to heart and believed it as though it was gospel.

It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I began to have the fog lifted off of my brain and I began to realize how miserable Mom was in her own life. I began to see things around me through semi-adult eyes and realize how much of Mom’s abuse and cruel words towards me was her lashing out because she was so unhappy.  Mom wasn’t living the rich and jet-setting lifestyle she had always dreamed of, she was a tad on the overweight side and insecure about her body, and she felt tied down in a nowhere town; married to a man she didn’t love with two kids she didn’t want.

She was living in her own hell inside of her own head and instead of dealing with her own problems as an adult and trying to be the best mother and wife she could be, she chose to take her anger out on me and the rest of her family whenever she was reminded of what she didn’t have.

Once I began to realize that, the insults and the random outbursts began to make sense in my head. The insults about how disgusting my body was were really projections about how she felt about herself.  The screams coming out of nowhere, screaming how useless I was and what a waste of life I was, was a projection of how Mom felt about her life and herself at the moment.

Mom lashed out at me because she was too afraid to confront her own problems and make changes in her own life. She either didn’t know how to make herself happy or she just didn’t want to.  It was easier to blame me for all of her problems, lash out and scream in my face when she was feeling bad, and put me down with insults than to get the help and make the changes she needed to in order to be happy.

It’s understandable to have a bad day and want to lash out at someone; we all know that misery loves company. But if you are getting into someone’s face, calling them names, and making them feel like dirt under your shoes, then you need to take a step back and take a deep look at why you are acting that way.  Do you really feel that way about that person or do you feel that way about yourself?  Are you screaming at your loved one, or in your head, are you yelling at yourself and everything you despise about yourself?

No one deserves to be yelled at, called names, or demeaned in any way by anyone, especially by someone that claims to love them. Blaming yourself for this treatment does nothing more but take the responsibility away from the abuser and puts it onto your shoulders.  Stand up for yourself, believe you are worth more than what they are saying, and don’t ever accept someone screaming into your face ever again.  You are better than that.

Why They Lash Out…

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

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APA Reference
, . (2017). Why They Lash Out…. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Apr 2017
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