I read what Mel Gibson said in those tapes to his ex-girlfriend. I didn’t actually hear the tapes, but I read the dialogue. Like most people who heard or read the words that came out of Mr. Gibson’s mouth, I was disgusted. It’s pretty easy to suggest that Mr. Gibson is racist, bigoted, and misogynistic. Ever since that alcohol-fueled episode in 2006, it’s been apparent to the public that Mel Gibson deals with demons. But, these recent tapes were more chilling. These words were directed to the mother of his infant child. They were scary and hateful. The venomous words that spewed from Mr. Gibson’s mouth were beyond misogyny and racism. They were filled with rage.
Anger and rage are not the same. Anger, when expressed in a civilized and controlled way, is a healthy feeling and expression. When anger is suppressed, it only damages the person holding it inside. But when anger is expressed in a volatile way, such as Mr. Gibson’s case, it is beyond anger. It is rage. Anger is not violent. It is not harmful. On the contrary, expressed angry can be healthy and constructive. Rage is not. Rage is distressing. It is harmful. It is emotionally abusive.
Everyone gets angry at some point or another, but not everyone deals with anger the same way. There are three ways people tend to deal with anger: avoid anger, explode with anger, or express anger in a healthy and positive way. Women, more often than men, tend to avoid expressing anger while more men than women explode with anger. Women tend to internalize their anger and suffer in silence. There could be various reasons for that, but it is especially the case when a women is in an abusive relationship. Women who are in relationships with men that explode with anger often suppress their own anger and other emotions. They fear that expressing their own anger will set their husband or partner off. And, rightfully so, in many cases.
People that explode with anger, men or women, exert rage as a form of dominance, control, and manipulation. On the extreme side, such as in the case of Mel Gibson, they will fly into a rage and use physical violence or the threat of it to coerce a partner and exert power. The abuser will then use their out-of-control rage as an excuse and justification for their actions. “She made me do it” or “I hit her because she made me angry” is often expressed. Blaming the victim is the norm when it comes to people who explode with anger. They rarely take responsibility for their actions.
Was Mel Gibson physically abused as a boy? Was he bullied? Was he raised to have contempt for women and other minorities? Does he see them as weak and inferior? Was he raised, like so many boys, to hide his vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and feelings? Does any of that matter? To some degree, yes, but the most important task for Mel Gibson to do now is to get help for his behavior and actions. He needs to take responsibility for his abusive behavior. He needs to own his rage. He needs to change for his children, his baby girl, and everyone else in his life. But, perhaps most importantly, he needs to change for himself. Living life as an angry man, an abusive man, a man filled with rage, and one who cannot take responsibility for his actions is, at the root of everything, a man who is miserable.