Vail Valley: Violence is never justified |

Vail Valley: Violence is never justified

Randy Simmonds
Special to Vail Daily
Val, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – We in Colorado’s Vail Valley live in a wonderful place where we would like to think that acts of violence and purposeful intention to hurt another just would not happen. And yet, we have experienced in this last year very visible acts of violence towards another and towards self. Homicide and suicide happen in our valley. We simply cannot pretend otherwise.

Violence is a major issue facing today’s young adults. National statistics suggest that one in 12 high school students is threatened or injured with a weapon each year.

Those between the ages of 12 and 24 are at the highest risk of being the victim of violence. Though there is no single explanation for the overall rise in youth violence, we do know that there are several factors that provide some “warning signs” for the tendency toward violent behavior.

Some use violence as a means of expression. Although certainly inappropriate, some use violent behavior as a way to release feelings of anger or frustration. They may think there are no answers to their problems, and never having learned alternative methods for dealing with frustrations, they turn to violence to express their out of control emotions. Do you know someone who has not learned appropriate expressions for frustrations and they resort to violence as a means of expressing themselves?

Others use violence as a means for manipulation in order to get something they want or in attempts to control another. This manipulation can take many forms, from indirect pressure to the violent acts that we read about in some domestic violence incidents. Have you seen signs of manipulative behavior in someone you know that borders on the violent?

Violence is also used to retaliate against those who have been hurtful or are perceived to have hurt someone that the person cares about. Violence is learned behavior, but like all learned behaviors, it can be changed. Some say things like, “I just can’t help it – this is just the way I am.” Research and experience, however, clearly indicate that, apart from some specific mental disorders, that position is just not justifiable. We can choose to be different.

There are a number of factors that contribute to violent behavior in our society – peer pressure, the need for attention or respect, feelings of low self-worth, early childhood abuse or neglect, and witnessing violence at home, in the community or in the media. It is important to recognize warning signs of violence in others, before tragic incidents take place. Some of those warning signals include loss of temper on a daily basis, frequent physical fighting or destructive behavior, increase in use of drugs or alcohol, feelings of rejection, feeling constantly disrespected, or failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others.

When you recognize violence warning signs in someone else or in yourself, there are things you can do. Just hoping that someone else will deal with the situation is the easy way out, but it may have tragic results. Tell someone you respect about your concerns and ask for help. The key to really preventing violent behavior is asking an experienced professional for help. The most important thing to remember is: “You don’t have to go it alone.”

Anger is a part of life, but you can free yourself from the cycle of violence by learning to talk about your feelings. It’s normal to feel angry or frustrated when you’ve been let down or betrayed. But anger and frustration never justify violent action. Anger is a strong emotion that can be difficult to keep in check, but the right response is always to stay cool. Be strong, be safe and get help.

Randy J. Simmonds, Ph.D. is the clinical director of the Samaritan Center of the Rockies, a nonprofit counseling center in Edwards. Simmonds can be contacted at 970-926-8558. For more information about the Samaritan Center go to

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