The Silent Treatment [Types of Emotional Child Abuse Series, Part 1]

The Invisible Scar

ignored [via tumblr]When you look up thedefinition of emotional child abuse, several examples are listed: giving the silent treatment, ranking children unnecessarily, being condescending, bunny boiling, gaslighting children, scapegoating, sabotaging, favoritism, triangulation, pathological (or compulsive) lying, smearing, corrupting, ignoring, corrupting, terrorizing, isolation, and inappropriate control. 

To better understand the different facets of emotional child abuse, we’ll be exploring one trait per post.

In this post, we’ll look more closely at the emotionally abusive form of child abuse called “the silent treatment” (also “withholding”). It is also used in adult relationships, but for the purpose and focus of The Invisible Scar, we’ll study the silent treatment as it relates to children.

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…

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  1. Even in marriage relationship, silent treatment is bad too.

    1. Yes, even in marriage, giving the silent treatment is still abuse–emotional abuse.

  2. My mother still brags about giving so-and-so the silent treatment. Sadly, until I learned that causing people pain is not a good way to solve problems and get along better, I emulated her manipulating ways. It took a while to figure out that this was not “punishment,” or maybe it was….is all punishment abuse? Nah, I think there are appropriate consequences to bad behavior, but denying them love is not of them. Chances are, the unfortunate recipient of the silent treatment doesn’t even know what s/he did to “deserve” it!

    1. This is the truly sad part about the silent treatment. The recipient doesn’t know what he or she did and are never told. I suspect for two reasons: one, their reason would not have made any sense anyway; and two, the abuser wants the recipient to suffer.

      1. I even look like her, think like her, and keep my mouth shut like she did. She also was sent away. I ran away at age 16, out of the frying pan into the fire, but in fact better to go up in flames than to slowly sizzle….

      2. I agree. The slow sizzle of emotional abuse is a soul killer.

      3. If I dared to ask what I did wrong during one of my mother’s apparently unprovoked rages, she would snivel, “Well, if you don’t know, I’M certainly not going to tell you.”

        Huh? That must have been a teaching moment. Guess I missed it…

      4. I was not allowed to ask and didn’t dare to even think about asking…

      5. Gosh, Lynnette, are you sure we didn’t grow up in the same family LOL

      6. I was thinking the same thing.

  3. I just needed someone to tell me I was messing up so I would stop. NO one cared enough to say anything so I kept messing up. It hurts to be ignored.

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