Update on “Is it The Silent Treatment or Emotional Survival?”: Part 2 Another Good Resource

Click here for all posts in this series.


Many months ago I posted a guest commentary written by a woman who had left a long-term relationship because of verbal abuse: https://pnissila.wordpress.com/?s=is+it+the+silent+treatment+or+emotional+survival

There had been some physical abuse as well early on in the relationship, she reported, but in the end, it was the long-term, often unpredictable, spates of verbal abuse that left her numb.

She wanted to explain the difference, in her piece, between what’s called the “silent treatment,” itself abusive, and the opposite phenomenon, what she calls, “emotional survival”. They may appear to be similar, but are in fact, opposites.

Withdrawal (which, in her definition, is for the purpose of mental and emotional survival vs the abusive “silent treatment” which is chosen to torment) is what happens in a relationship where one’s words, actions, opinions, and so on, may at any moment be criticized, blamed, shamed, put-down, mocked, or held in angry contempt. The recipient can never know for sure. Experts describe a common response to this dynamic as “walking on eggshells.”

The bruises caused by this kind of abuse do not show, and perpetrators may appear to be anything but their lesser selves to everyone outside the relationship; however, bruises there are–on mind, heart, psyche–and relationship.

Fortunately, as the counsellor/teacher’s article linked above indicates, God’s Word has clarity, practical information, and hope for those in this situation, too–both perpetrator and recipient.

My view (and encouragement)? Dramatic and truly altering heart and mind changes, no matter what one is facing, start here:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10, NIV).

This is a two-part instruction.

First, ask for and wait on God for the “pure heart,” His heart, as it were, for the situation, the person, or the relationship. If needed, begin at the beginning: ask for the “new heart” gifted us at salvation, where, in an extraordinary, spiritual “re-birthing” process, the spirit of Jesus Christ is imparted to those who earnestly seek Him and who ask.

Part two: when one slips and slides backward or sideward, go back to Him for “renewal”.

And this applies to all those (read, “everybody”) whose attitudes and behaviors are deep-seated and or influenced by family cultures, “the world, the flesh (and/or) the devil.”

God can grace you with clarification on all that, too.

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3 Responses to Update on “Is it The Silent Treatment or Emotional Survival?”: Part 2 Another Good Resource

  1. healingInHim says:

    Thank you for the link: Verbal Abuse. My spouse didn’t have to yell. It was years of disinterest, trivializing, etc. Those were key words in this article. Allowing other family members to treat me rudely … yes, you think you are the problem as you finally ‘crack’ under the pressure of absolutely no one being there to comfort you. It’s your voice the neighbours hear as you finally confront the sin and cry out in anger and anguish.
    Even now, I feel very weak, physically and emotionally. At my age, late 50’s my lawyer says I am entitled to this and that … it’s exhausting just thinking of having to move out and on. How cruel after 38 yrs of faithfulness … and now he is content to live as room mates … won’t seek divorce because it would cost him too much and is shocked that I would begin the process on my own! Is that crazy making?


    • pnissila says:

      HealinginHim: My prayers are with you. It seems you may be in a corner, but God promises a way out… Continue to stay very close to Him. Let His Word refresh your mind and spirit. There is a universe of spiritual light, life, truth, power, and restoration taking place in the spirits of believers–in you–over which accusers/abusers and everybody else have absolutely no control or power. God’s Word illuminates this.

      As opposed to the voices that clamor at us and against us, the Holy Spirit, Who imparts Jesus’ “mind” to us at rebirth, is, as they say, the ultimate “gentleman.” When we step back from reacting in fear, dread, anger, and depression to those who disrespect and/or loathe us (which in a twisted way, seems to delight them, or make them think they have even more power over us) to the quiet place of God’s clarity and wisdom, we are more able to follow Him to true freedom, whatever that means in our specific situation.

      Make no mistake; this is very hard. But it becomes a “place” of greatest peace, comfort, and hope as we see the powerful results. And, one way or another, what we glean there of God’s will and truth is the path out–spiritually, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. However that happens. However long it takes.

      Stay very close to Him and watch and see what He will yet do for you today, and in the days to follow.


      • healingInHim says:

        Thank you for your encouragement. What is so very disheartening is: it is ‘the church’, the leadership and long-time members that don’t care about abusive relationships as long as the marriage ‘looks decent’ in the public eye.
        Sadly, it is the secular crowd that have actually given me the protections that I have needed — I want to be careful about not being drawn into fleshly ‘feel sorry for me’ attitudes but be OBEDIENT only to the infallible Word.
        I haven’t been part of a local church fellowship for many years; even as a false professor my husband could see that the churches were ‘soft’ on sound doctrine and that they didn’t make men like him accountable. He is a quiet man and thus does not appear abusive to others. Counselors have now educated me in that ‘the quiet ones’ are usually the most unpredictable – yes, I am noticing this in other circumstances, too.


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