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Supporting a friend or partner with anger – for young people

Information for young people on how to support a friend or partner who is experiencing anger.

This page is also available in Welsh.

How can I support them?

It can be difficult to support a friend or partner who is angry. Especially if they sometimes direct their anger towards you. 

It’s important to know that they’re responsible for their own actions, including learning how to manage their anger.

But, if you feel able to, there are things you can do to support them:

  • Keep calm when they’re wound up. Talk to them in your normal voice, without raising your tone or arguing.
  • Listen to them without judgement. They might not even want any other help, but just someone to be there for them.
  • Help them find a space to calm down inYou could suggest they go for a walk, or help them find a quiet room if you’re in school or college. 
  • Respect your own boundariesThink about what behaviour isn’t acceptable to you, and have a plan for what you’ll do if they cross your boundaries.
  • Help them recognise their triggers or warning signsYou might be able to notice something they can’t, and this may help them plan how to avoid triggers or handle them differently.
  • Help them find information about anger. You could show them our information on dealing with anger.
  • Support them if they want to open up to others – you could share our tips on opening up to someone or how to talk to a doctor with them.

“I can discuss things with my friends regarding their own triggers and how I can help ensure these don’t get in the way when I am with them.” 

What if they don’t think they have a problem? 

If they don’t think they have a problem, or they don’t want to be helped, this can be really hard on you.

You can remind them that you’re there for them, and that you can help them seek support when they’re ready. 

Remember: it's not all on you, and it's important that you look after yourself too.

See our pages on how to support a friend and looking after your own wellbeing for more information.

It’s important to prioritise your mental health too. You can’t pour from an empty glass.” 

If you’re worried because someone is very angry

Even when someone seems very angry, it doesn’t mean that they will become violent. But if you feel like this might happen, the most important thing you can do is keep yourself safe.

  • Don’t confront them.
  • Get away from the situation if it’s safe to do so – like going to a different room or a friend’s house. 
  • Tell a trusted adult like a teacher, youth worker, neighbour or doctor what’s happened, even if nobody’s been hurt.
  • Call a helpline – you can contact Childline to talk to a counsellor confidentially, or you can contact Refuge who offer support for young people experiencing violence at home. The Hideout also has advice on domestic abuse.
  • Call the police – if your safety or someone else’s is in danger, this is an emergency and you should dial 999.

“Supporting someone can be difficult and you should not, by any means, be expected to put up with abuse or violence just because of someone’s struggles. 

This information was published in March 2021. We will revise it in 2024.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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