The Silent Treatment – Is It Emotional Abuse?


Silent Abuse

When I was growing up I was one of those types of kids that cause parents to turn grey early in life. In fact my mother turned grey by age 29. LOL

There were times when I would test my mothers patience to the point that I received what is called the silent treatment. There would be an hour or two or even possibly a day where she would not speak to me.

I realized quite quickly that when this happened that I had really blown it that time.

Not always is the silent treatment a negative thing. There are times when it is appropriate for someone to take some time not communicating with someone but where do you draw the line between appropriate quietness and abuse?

I hope to help you figure out that line for yourself so that you do not end up wounding someone with the this behavior or help you understand that if you are on the receiving end of the someone treating you this way where to say enough is enough and no longer continue in an abusive relationship.

What is the Silent Treatment?

The silent treatment is the act or behavior of someone who is completely ignoring another person. This behavior is normally associated with the communication of disapproval or punishment of the person being ignored.

It is a controlling behavior placing the one doing the ignoring in control of all aspects of the relationship by denying any form of relationship.

The term “The Silent Treatment” was first coined in 1947. It is used by a lot of people in today’s society.

The proper way to be quiet when things are tense.

This behavior can, in limited form be a healthy thing for a relationship. There are times in any relationship where during a heated exchange a “time out” is needed to let things cool down.

This can last for a couple of hours to at most a couple of days where both parties get their emotions under control before continuing a conversation.

The time of silence is being used to evaluate what is going on and to empathize with the other persons perspective. This can be a healthy thing in a relationship.

My mother used this technique when she knew she would damage me if she continued without a season of silence.

Improper use of the silence as a punishment.

If the silent treatment lasts beyond a short season then it has gone over the line of a healthy response to a heated situation and into a very destructive and harmful form of emotional abuse.

No longer is it about cooling down and trying to figure out a solution to the problem, it has now become a way to punish and control the other person. It is about getting your own way at any cost to the other person. Even if it means the end of the relationship or the way you want to end the relationship.

By withholding communication with the other person, the person who is improperly using the silent treatment is withholding love, worth, respect, and value.

Many times the silent treatment is used to bully and cow those that disagree with the person into a form of submission.



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Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber has been a believer in Jesus for 35 years. He has been a pastor for over 20 years currently serving at Mid-Peninsula Vineyard Christian Church In San Carlos CA. and was formerly the secretary treasurer of White Pine County Ministerial Association. He is an alumnus of LIFE Bible College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
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