“Punishment by silence” is a tool of blackmail and emotional abuse that can lead to serious psychological risks | Lifestyle
Silence treatment is a psychological punishment that takes place by refusing to verbally communicate with another person in order to convey a certain message to them.
People who use silence may refuse to even acknowledge the other person’s existence, acting as if they are invisible and non-existent.
Silent punishment is used in many relationships, including the relationship of a mother or father with their children, or between them in their marital relationship.
This behavior is considered emotional blackmail for the person being punished by silence, and is usually a means by which a person controls, manipulates and controls another.
Silence.. between punishment and desire
Punishing by silence or refusing to participate in a conversation with another person is a moral tactic to impose control in a relationship and is unhealthy behavior in all its forms.
There is a big difference between ostracism and silence as punishment and between wanting a person to be quiet and spend some time thinking about things to solve problems and then communicating later after everyone has calmed down.
As Very Well Mind explains, there are times in relationships when silence is inevitable, healthy, and even productive. For example, a couple – or one of them – may take a vacation after a heated argument to cool off and collect ideas.
What distinguishes this silence from the pattern of punishment by silence is that the deadline is known and agreed upon, and there is an explicit or implicit assumption that the two parties will revisit the issue and discuss it later.
There are also cases where a person who is exposed to any kind of abuse remains silent in order to defend himself, to prevent the situation of abuse from getting worse.
In such situations, the victim knows that saying anything – even if it is what the other party wants – will only escalate the situation.
When one spouse is subjected to verbal abuse, for example, during an acute disagreement, it is perfectly rational and healthy to set boundaries and avoid discussion altogether, in order to protect the person from abuse and harm.
Therefore, staying silent during a bullying situation is not an example of punishing with silence, but staying silent here could be very good to protect yourself from being bullied.
Why is silence used as punishment?
People use silence for a number of reasons, which – according to Medical News Today for health and medicine – include the following:
- Avoid conflicts: In some cases, people stay silent during a conversation because they don’t know what to say or they want to avoid conflict completely, so they resort to silence.
- Impossibility of communicationSome people may use silence as a protective shield if they do not know how to express their feelings, but at the same time want to express their sadness and resentment.
- Willingness to punish: If a person uses silence as a means to punish someone or to try to impose it on them, it is a form of abuse and emotional blackmail.
In addition to being a harmful behavior in general, it is especially dangerous if it is used in the upbringing of children, because it can lead to deep psychological problems in the child, because he does not know exactly why he is being punished, denied and denied. existence, and therefore may suffer from crises in his appreciation of his own worth, his vision of himself, and even in his appreciation of right and wrong standards.
Silent punishment is an insidious form of abuse and extortion, as it can force the victim to reconcile with the perpetrator against their will, in an attempt to stop the psychologically damaging behavior, even if the victim does not know the reason for their apology in the first place.
In most cases, punishment by ostracism or silence is not a productive and effective behavior for solving conflicts and problems.
Research published in 2013 in the journal Communication Monograph found that both men and women use silence in their marital relationships.
However, clear and direct communication is essential for understanding and achieving connection and intimacy. This negative behavior prevents people from resolving their conflicts in a healthy and productive way.
Also, the desire of one of the spouses to talk about a specific problem at a time when the other party decides to withdraw and remain silent can cause negative feelings such as anger, anxiety and mistrust.
According to another 2012 study published in the APA journal Psycnet, people who regularly feel ignored in their relationships also report lower levels of self-esteem, belonging, and sense of meaning in their lives.
For this reason, the behavior of punishing by silence can have negative effects on the health of the relationship, even if the silent person’s negative behavior is only trying to avoid conflict, not to impose control or punish the other party.
Therefore, the victim in this relationship will probably continue to repeat the same disagreements, because he never had the opportunity to discuss his grievances, clarify his wishes and get a satisfactory answer.
What can be done about this behavior
If you are subject to a frequent pattern of being silenced, the following steps can help reduce your risk of this behavior, according to Psychology Today:
- Avoid isolation. Maintaining relationships with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues is an important step in overcoming the psychological blackmail your partner will inflict on you if he rejects you or ignores your presence.
- Maintain a rich life: Pursuing hobbies, reading, and art projects can help you stay strong and stable while dealing with silent punishment.
- Remind yourself: One of the problems with an abusive and controlling partner is that it can be difficult for you to remember who you are, so don’t let your opinions, desires and goals be erased.
- Seek expert advice: A therapist who understands controlling and abusive behavior can help you understand what you’re going through and prepare for the challenges ahead.
- Select the red line: Realizing that punishing with silence is just a controlling person’s tactic, determine what your red line is. If you feel the situation is harmful to you or your family, research ways to report domestic violence in your country and get help finding a safe way out of the relationship.