Protective Mothers' Alliance International

family court abuse/corruption

Portrait of an Emotional Abuser: The Silent Treatment Abuser/ Dr. Gregory Jantz’s Blog

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” By not verbally expressing that anger, by “avoiding” showing anger, the abuser is allowed to feel as if the victim is the only person at fault for whatever wrong is perceived by the abuser.” Dr. Gregory Jantz

Sylvia entered the quiet house. When she had pulled up in the driveway after work, she hadn’t seen any lights on in the

front of the house, but Jim’s car was parked in its normal place. So he was home. It meant he was in the den at the back of the house instead of in the living room. What have I done now? she thought to herself?

Jim always retreated to the den when he was mad at her. The more she bothered him and tried to find out what was wrong, the longer he would stay inside, not speaking to her. It was best if she just went about her business in the house as quietly as possible, trying to stay out of his way and waiting for him to either snap out of it or blow up and tell her what she had done wrong. She couldn’t force him to respond, and over the years she had gotten used to his behavior.

No discussion of emotional abuse through words would be complete without including the absence of words as a form of abuse. This is commonly known as the “silent treatment.” Abusers punish their victims by refusing to speak to them or even acknowledge their presence. Through silence, the abusers loudly communicate their displeasure, anger, frustration, or disappointment.

Depending on the person, this silent treatment can last for hours, days, or weeks. For some abusers, it is a preferred method of communication because of its ability to humiliate and control the victim. It is used most effectively by those in close relationship, such as a spouse, parent, or child. The silence, the loss of verbal relationship, is meant to exact an emotional toll on the other person, who often will go to great lengths to attempt to restore communication with the abuser.

This level of control is precisely what the abuser is looking for, as well as a way to vent his or her anger at the other person.

By not verbally expressing that anger, by “avoiding” showing anger, the abuser is allowed to feel as if the victim is the only person at fault for whatever wrong is perceived by the abuser. If the victim responds to the silent treatment with anger, the abuser is doubly vindicated.

The above is excerpted from chapter 4 in Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Dr. Gregory Jantz.

4 Responses

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  1. Silent treatment was my ex’s most frequently used method to “announce” how I was not as important as a piece of furniture in the room. He abused me this way while claiming he did nothing abusive simply because he wasn’t yelling or hitting me. He claimed my upset reaction made me the one in the wrong & that he was being perfectly reasonable and doing nothing wrong by not acknowledging my existence.

    Torn 2 Peaces

    April 25, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    • So sorry Torn!!! Some PMA Leaders also were treated in this abusive manner. It is very destructive and quite insidious as the abuser only ignores the victim behind closed doors. In public he/she will still engage in limited conversation ,when needed, in order to keep up appearances of a normal happy relationship and loving partner. Much love to you.

  2. Lived over 27 years this way. I still feel anger no one told me this was abuse.

    Becky C

    April 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    • Becky; So sorry you have suffered in this manner. Most people are unaware this is abusive behavior. Some of our leaders who were in this exact situation, just realized this too. This is why PMA INTL. posted this important article. Awareness needs to be raised about this form of abuse. Best to you.


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