Silence (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 6)

30 Aug

Silence takes many forms in a dysfunctional family. There is the silence of the enabler who allows children to be beaten in anger. There is silence of the controller who chooses not to reveal truth so they can manipulate an outcome. There is the silence of children who are afraid to tell the truth for fear of what will happen when they get home. There is the silence of conspiracy where adults keep their mouths shut out of loyalty to someone much less worthy than God. And there is the silence of ostracization where no one talks to you anymore because you have broken the rules.

If you dare to break the silence, it’s guaranteed you will receive the silent treatment.


It goes without saying that sins of omission are often fueled by silence.  Silence has enabled racism, sexism and the cruelest abuse this world has ever seen.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

A few years ago, I choose to tell the truth rather than be silent. I felt it was the only way to be just and the court record still states the truth I gave. It also reveals the truth about me–that I wished no harm on anyone involved. Because I chose to tell the truth, I’ve been scolded and ignored. I’m not sure which is worse someone trying to shame me for something I know was right or someone so angry they can’t even eat a meal with me without seething in anger. Or the silence.

Many parents punish their adult children with the silent treatment. To be ignored or be silent is to say you do not deserve to be a part of my life. It’s sad. It reveals a lack of wholehearted relationship. If we can’t stand each other because we worship or see God differently or make different choices our religion is hollow. Such behavior seems very unlike God.

Sometimes when people are abusive we have to erect boundaries because they don’t have control over themselves. If they yell and scream and call us names, they are not meeting us in the relationship with mutual respect and we have to walk away. The only way to solve such disagreements is to meet on common ground with mutual respect.

Cold and stony silence was never a part of God’s plan for the human family. We were meant to live open and honest lives. We were meant to stand up for those who are abused and tell the truth. We were meant to live in total naked honesty with nothing to hide. Those who endorse silence usually have something they want to hide. There is no faster way to harm yourself and your entire family than to be silent about things that really matter.

But he’s already made it plain
how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple:
Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.
-Micah 6:8

Traditions of Dysfunctional Families Home

Anger (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 1)

Secrets (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 2)

Scapegoating (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 3)

Isolation (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 4)

Triangulation (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 5)

Disrespect (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 7)

 Violence (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 8)

Victim-hood (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 9)

Mind Control (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 10)


2 Responses to “Silence (Traditions of Dysfunctional Families 6)”

  1. Andrea July 3, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    I’ve got a question. Last year I finally got so fed up with my dysfunctional family of origin, after two decades of spending more time and energy on them than they ever spent on me, and got so fed up at being expected to be the person who runs after them and jumps when they click their fingers, that I lapsed into silence and would be fine with not having anything to do with them anymore ever. I was diagnosed with cPTSD at around the time I found myself emotionally disconnecting, and I seriously have interest in exposing myself ever again to them, I just want to be as far from them as possible. Obviously, in our family our problems and past never got discussed meaningfully, and my parents still live in this kind of bubble universe/time warp, where nothing ever changes, like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations (except she did actually see the lightbulb in the very end). I now feel physically sick at the very thought of having anything to do with them. We were only visiting them around twice a year for the last ten years anyway because I was aware it wasn’t good for me and because they never visited us, but now I’ve hit my limit completely. But it’s so easy for people who’ve kept you in silence and treated you with disrespect, to accuse you of giving them the silent treatment when you want to cut ties for your own good. Any thoughts?

  2. Cherilyn Clough July 3, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    Hi Andrea,

    Shunning by the Narc is usually a form of manipulation and control, while No Contact by the Victim/Victor is usually the act of setting a boundary. So while No Contact might look a lot like shunning, there is a big difference. Here is a comparison between the two:

    Peace and freedom to you!


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