How to Deal with Repressed Anger by Writing an Angry Letter

Have you ever had someone tell you to write an angry letter? I have! And I’ve given the assignment to my clients as well. It might sound silly but expressive writing to release repressed anger (or hidden anger) and other emotions has been researched and proven to be affective to relieve stress, trauma responses, and even physical pain (Source) It’s so beneficial to deal with your repressed anger because of the physical and emotional symptoms it causes. The truth is you always bury anger alive. And burying something alive always has consequences- any scary movie can show you that!

If you are anything like me, you might not realize you have repressed anger because you have gotten good at avoiding it and stuffing it. I attended a domestic violence support group for nearly 2 years and one particularly insightful meeting had to do with hidden anger. I learned that night that we tend to recognize the obvious symptoms of hidden or repressed anger, but most of us have no idea what subtle behaviors indicate we are avoiding processing pain or difficult emotions. Here’s what to watch out for:

Signs of Hidden or Repressed Anger

  • Procrastination in the completion of tasks,
  • Sarcasm, cynicism, or flippancy in conversation,
  • Over-politeness, constant cheerfulness, attitude of “grin and bear it.”
  • Frequent sighing,
  • Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams,
  • Getting tired easier than usual,
  • Becoming drowsy at inappropriate times,
  • Chronically stiff or sore neck or shoulder muscles,

After we all took the quiz and realized we had LOTS of repressed anger, we needed a next step. How do we deal with repressed anger? Our advocate told us to journal through 2 questions if we were having a hard time releasing the anger:

I don’t want to release my anger because _____

I’m afraid to release my anger because ______

Here’s the cliff notes version of what I discovered about my Repressed Anger. I hope this helps you as you walk through the same process to know you are not alone!

Question 1: I don’t want to release my anger because:

  • I know that when I do “let it go” I have to allow the release to happen. And release is slightly terrifying.
  • I don’t like what the word release means at all. I would rather not give this person freedom. They should pay me back for all of the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical wounds I experienced.
  • Letting go of my anger means that every time this person angers me in the future, I must walk through the process all over again.
  • Ugh. I don’t want to let go of my anger without an apology first. Is that so much to ask?

Release : “Free from confinement, bondage, obligation, pain, etc.; Let go. Relinquish. Surrender.”

Question 2: I am afraid to release my anger because…

  • Anger is “normal” to me. I know what to do with anger. I’ve lived with anger a long, long time.
  • Anger is like a protective wall for me because I don’t have to deal with the sadness and betrayal on the other side.
  • Holding on to it means I somehow still have control of my life.
  • I’m afraid I could be easily hurt again. Like the anger is making me “bullet-proof” or something. Surrendering it could make me vulnerable again.
  • I spent decades avoiding anything that makes me vulnerable. Vulnerability was a weakness. Emotions were a weakness. Tenderness was a weakness. Anger was safe.

How I let Go of the Repressed Anger

After seeing it all on paper, I had a choice to make. Was I going to accept the process of letting this anger go? Or was I going to hold onto it? I had an internal dialogue that went something like this,

 Raychel, do you do well to be angry? Is it helping? Does it make you feel good in your mind, body, and spirit to hold on to this? No. Nope. Not even a little bit.

What do you need to do next? I write the angry letter.

To be completely transparent this was not over and done with one angry letter. It took several. And even years latter I still find myself processing anger and resetting boundaries with certain people in my life. Resolving the anger doesn’t guarantee instant results. It’s a process.

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Wesley, The Princess Bride.

What Do I Write in an Angry Letter?

Good question.  Think of an angry letter as a brain dump. Just start writing. Start by writing everything you would say about the person, the situation, the hurt, the aftermath, if you could. If you had one chance to say everything you wanted to say, what would you say? This gets easier once you start, the hardest part is starting. I once wrote an angry letter that was 6 pages long in a very short amount of time because the words just came out of me like vomit. That’s the point. No judgements. Don’t second guess what you wrote. And PC terms or nice words are not required. Dig deep and get it out once and for all. Nobody is going to see this angry letter so write it all! NEVER send the letter. THIS IS IMPORTANT. This letter is for you. Not them.

Expressing repressed anger through angry letters is an effective tool to deal with high levels of stress, trauma, and a whole host of emotional and physical symptoms. When you become aware of signs of hidden anger you have a choice. You can deal with it or continue to ignore it. I hope you choose to deal with it. Writing an angry letter helps you understand the reality of what happened to you and how your life changed because of it. With understanding you can begin to release the hidden anger. Baby steps. You got this.

with Grace & Grit,


Raychel Perman is a Certified Life & Business Coach, Speaker, Author, and Co-Founder of RAYMA Team, LLC. She is the Co-host of the She Who Overcomes™ Podcast and is funny, wise, and tells it like it is. Raychel shares her story of overcoming trauma and living with mental health challenges to inspire others to believe that the broken pieces of their past can lead to beauty, strength, and new beginnings. She is the author of UNBROKEN and co-author of She Cultivates Resilience.

Learn more about Raychel here.

5 Domestic Violence Statistics Everyone Should Know

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic abuse is a topic that hits close to home for so many of us. So, to help spread awareness, foster healing for survivors, and create a safe place for hard conversations, let’s talk about it. Starting with 5 domestic violence statistics everyone should know about:

#1- It is not what it looks like.

If you are looking for someone to have unexplained bruises on their body or a black eye, you are not looking hard enough. Victims of domestic violence hide in plain sight. They sit beside you in church, go to the same school functions you attend, and sometimes live right next door. They don’t look like victims.

They don’t all have bruises and scars on their bodies that you can see. Many have scars on their minds and hearts and souls that no one could see from the outside – unless you knew what to look for. Victims of emotional, psychological, and verbal abuse are the hardest to identify if you are only looking for obvious signs.

#2- Domestic violence is an epidemic.

A woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States.

Here’s some perspective on that number… that is 4,774,000 women a year.

“The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.”

The Huffington Post article, “30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics…”:

#3-Domestic violence has far-reaching consequences for society.

In the same article, they report that 18 million people require mental health visits as a direct result of intimate partner violence every year. And, there are 8 million days of paid work women lose out on every year because of abuse perpetrated on them. That is the equivalent of losing 32,000 full-time jobs.

#4- The Real Reason they stay  

It’s always shocking when you find out someone you know, and love has been the victim of domestic violence. One of the first questions people often ask is, “Why didn’t they leave sooner?” The #1 reason they stayed…Financial abuse. In fact, it’s reported that 98% of domestic violence cases include some form of financial abuse.

If the abuser controls the money supply, they cut off the resources for anyone to leave.  It is because of this that many women and children who escape abusive relationships end up homeless. This is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.

#5- They won’t report it.

The numbers are staggering. But the most painful number for me is this one… only 25% of women who have experienced domestic violence and intimate partner violence will report it. Of the almost 5 million women who experience violence in their homes, only about 1 million will find the courage to report it. Why? The reasons are as varied as the women involved but some major themes play into many cases where a woman declines to report it and/or stays with her abuser:

  • Shame to have others know the truth;
  • Wanting to protect the batterer (she loves him after all);
  • Belief that he will change or the behavior is justified (e.g., “He drank too much,” “He doesn’t actually hit me,” etc.) ;
  • Fear of the questioning and not being believed by the police or authorities;
  • Fear of retaliation against her, or the children, from her partner; and
  • Fear of losing custody of her children.

Domestic abuse is a topic that hits close to home for all of us.

Whether it’s taking place within the walls of our own home or the walls of our sister’s, best friend’s, or neighbor’s home. It has to stop. It’s an epidemic of silence; and, you stop an epidemic of silence by talking about it.

With grace and grit,


Resource links:

If you are someone you know needs to leave an abusive marriage please contact your local resource center or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. If you are in the Bismarck/Mandan area contact the Abused Adult Resource Center

Image: A red handprint across the mouth has become a symbolic representation of violence that affects Indigenous women across Canada, the United States and beyond. 

Before you go, here are 3 ways to stay in touch: