The other side of using the silent treatment. Letter

I read with interest your article about the silent treatment as a response to conflict and thought it was worth offering an alternative view that sometimes it is the only option available (The Silent Treatment: A woman is abused by her husband Excommunicated for 40 years, 12 December). I’m not sure it’s necessarily accurate or helpful to blame all people who stop talking to their blood relatives as angry people.

I have not spoken to my biological brother for the last 15 years. The basis of this was his psychological and physical abuse, which not only affected my childhood, but continued into adulthood, well after he should have known better. It took years of therapy to realize that I didn’t need this person in my life and I decided to break up. Despite our mother’s appeal to me for reconciliation, I have made it clear that reconciliation can only happen after an apology and a confession on his part for putting up with threats, physical attacks and making me a figurative and literal punchbag, Even in our 20s. Until then, there can be no basis for a meaningful adult relationship.

He refuses to believe what happened, as does my mother. Excuses are made, memories are distorted and questions are raised. When I challenged my mother, crying, why do you treat your brother worse than a stranger on the street? At last I gathered the courage to answer: that no stranger on the street would hit me or say rude things to me; If my husband had done what my brother did, he would have told me to call the police; It is shameful for him to ask his daughter to be tolerant in such circumstances.

My refusal to engage is my last line of defense. I am not ashamed of this.
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Throughout my life, I have often been the victim of my mother’s silent treatment, who in turn taught my siblings that this was an acceptable way to deal with relationships. As your article suggests, it may be that this way of behaving is not unique to any particular personality type, but in my experience it is covert narcissism that has been the driver.

Anything that I perceive as drawing attention to myself and that might be a source of celebration in any functional family (showing any kind of independence, getting admitted to university, having a successful career, getting pregnant, playing a role in the local community) were punished by long episodes of the silent treatment. My mother has ignored me in public many times and, contrary to your somewhat sympathetic description of this behavior as a way for perpetrators to deal with uncomfortable emotions, she is understandably happy to be in the grip of shame and self-guilt. Which he has given me. To feel and by which he has controlled our relationship.

Given the lifetime of this treatment and the real possibility that its physical and mental effects would crush me, the irony is that I have had no contact with my mother, despite the fact that we live on the same street. Unlike him, I don’t take pleasure in it, but he has taught me well.
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Eighteen years ago, my marriage broke up. My husband and I had three children. He wanted a shared parenting arrangement. The problem was that he wouldn’t talk to me. at all.

All communication took place through solicitors and the courts, where it was explained that in order to implement a shared parenting arrangement, a great deal of co-operation and communication was necessary. After the divorce was finalized, all communication stopped.

The article talks about the psychological damage that the silent treatment can cause; However, I found that its effect was more harmful on our children. The changes in arrangements I got through the children, or not at all, meant that the children would sometimes be parked outside my house when I returned from work, when my ex-husband needed to be elsewhere. Used to be. Sports equipment, uniforms, coats were in the wrong house at the wrong time, making life very difficult day by day.

For the last 18 years I have felt like a woman who has children of her own. My husband’s family also joined in on this silent treatment. I never intended to raise my children alone, as if there was no father, but that’s what happened. I have not spoken to the father of my children for the last 18 years. No conversations about schooling, curfews, driving lessons or allowing them to go to parties. I was alone when issues arose. Worse, it meant there was no consistency in terms of discipline or family rules for the children.

I agree with the article that one reason for silent behavior may be that it is learned behavior. Whenever there were difficulties in the relationship, my husband’s family used to behave quietly. His grandparents didn’t talk to each other, his sister didn’t talk to his mother. My kids have been asking this for years: Why doesn’t Dad talk to you? Why doesn’t aunty talk to Nana? It is very difficult to explain the reason for someone else’s behavior. All I could tell him was that it is important for everyone to keep the lines of communication open. And he learned it firsthand. Now even in his 20s, he talks about the difficulties he has experienced.
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