The use of and imposition of silence are two of the most powerful weapons in our abusive arsenal. Silence is easy to deploy and horrendously effective in securing our aims of compliance, control and fuel.
1. My silence is always meaningful
You may sit quietly because you have no need to say anything. You may remain silent because you are listening to somebody else or just enjoying the silence. We do not allow silence to be used in such a passive and redundant fashion. Our silence is used to convey contempt. It is used to draw concern and cause anguish in you. When we fall silent that pregnant pause is an indicator of the fury which will be unleashed against you. The longer silence is the imposition of our cold fury as you are banished to a sustained silent treatment. When we sit in silence we are not savouring the lack of noise, we are thinking, planning and plotting, calculating our next step. Our silences are weapons, they are our operations headquarters, our defence against your critical wounding of us. We use silence to hurt you, warn you, scold you and indicate you have overstepped the mark. Every silence has a meaning, it would be remiss of us to use it any other way.
2. Absence makes the silence longer
The deployment of an absent silent treatment where we remove ourselves from you, invariably with no warning or indication is a confirmation to you that this silent treatment will not be short-lived. The need to absent ourselves sends you a clear signal that we will be gone for some time. It is designed to have you come after us, try to contact us and beg and plead so that you fuel us. When we impose a period of absence by vanishing we are reinforcing how easily we are able to consider you gone from our lives. You may not even be able to contact us but we gather fuel from our knowledge that this sudden disappearance will cause you considerable consternation and worry. The absent silent treatment is also a key indicator that we are engaged in the seduction of a new prospect and providing this person with our false love and attention, which we have removed from you.
3. The silent gesture
Our silences are not just occasioned by us not talking to you or absenting ourselves for a period of time. We deploy silence through gestures. We may not turn up when we have agreed to a date with you, in order to reinforce how your mean so little to us and that we have any number of more pressing engagements to attend to than dine with you in a restaurant. Leaving you alone in bed, our side of the bed now empty and cold is also a hammer blow to your confidence and self esteem as we choose the spare room, the sofa or the bed of another in preference to being with you during the night. The silent telephone call from a withheld number, used when we are hoovering you, is designed to put you on edge. Is it us calling you this late? It must be mustn’t it, but you cannot be sure? The failure to buy you a gift on your birthday, creating a gap which ought to have been filled stands out considerably and allows us to apply maximum hurt through such a silent gesture.
4. The silent presence
By giving you the cold shoulder when everyone else is met warmly and enthusiastically, we cause you to feel completely alone even when you are surrounded by others. You try to carry on as if nothing has happened but you know that people will be wondering why we are not speaking to you. You feel the flush of embarrassment as once again you try to speak to us and you receive only a glare and then we sweep away. You want to challenge us but as ever it is you that will be criticised for creating a scene. You want to upbraid us for our childish sulking but you have learned that the consequences of doing so are not worth suffering. We of course know all this and we know how powerful our freezing you out in the company of others really is.
5. Suffer in silence
You are never to speak of what goes on between you and I to anyone else. Should you ever do so you are committing an act of heinous betrayal and your punishment for such a transgression will be malicious and fierce. You are not to betray me and speak of what you are subjected to. You are to endure it so that you become a better person, one who is compliant and obedient. Do you understand? I also know that you fear the repercussions of speaking out and this enforces my curfew. I also know that you feel compelled to remain loyal because of the golden period and how you feel duty bound to remain and try to resolve matters, work this difficult period through and fix what has become somehow broken. Your indefatigable spirit teeters on the brink of misplaced pride at not telling tales and instead knuckling down, irrespective of what is thrown at you, in order to bring about a resolution to our problems. You cannot succeed but you do not know that yet. For now you must suffer in silence.
6. I speak, you stay silent
Never interrupt me, never talk over me, never steal my thunder. When I speak everybody listens because what I have to say is brilliant, great and of tremendous import. You would do well to listen to improve yourself, please me and avoid angering me. You are my sounding board, Horatio to my Hamlet, a listener and in my presence you only speak when it is required to honour my achievements and laud my greatness. You are to be seen but only heard when I deem it necessary. Who wants to listen to what you have to say anyway? You only get invited to events because of me. They are only friends with you because they are friends of mine. Nobody is interested in you. Nobody. So stay quiet and listen.