_____  Argue.

_____  Beg.

_____  Blame yourself.

_____  Attempt to force communication.

_____  Apologize even though you can’t figure out what you did wrong.

_____  Internalize the projections of negative messages.

_____  Show the person who is giving you the silent treatment that it is bothering you.


Check.  Check.  Check.  Check.  Check.  Check.  Check.

I found this list today  http://echorecovery.blogspot.com/2014/01/getting-silent-treatment-from-narcissist.html in the list of how to respond to those who give you the silent treatment.  Only before each item, it said “Do not.”

Of course, as I read through the list, I realized that I had repeatedly done each and every thing that I was not supposed to do.  For years.  And years.  And years.

The article, if you haven’t clicked on the link yet and read it yourself, is about those who give you the Silent Treatment.  Or Cold Shoulder.  Or Shun.  Or Exile.  Or Banish.  Or Ostracize.  And it is a metaphor for Death.  Because you are being treated as though you don’t exist.  I have often said that I was ostracized so that I would leave the church – so that I would no longer “exist” there.  The silent treatment is defined as “the act of ignoring or excluding a person or group by another person or group.”

Which describes what happened to me rather succinctly.

The word I have used most in telling my story is “ostracism,” so I will stick with that.  And this article reinforces all that happened in my spiritually abusive experience with a senior pastor who refused to respond to my begging, arguing, blaming of myself, attempts to force communication, etc.   Here is a synopsis of what I found:

Ostracism is used to control, punish, test boundaries, and avoid accountability, unpleasant issues, and responsibility toward a victim because said victim has done something the perpetrator does not like.  It includes blocking, stalling, stonewalling, and intentionally resisting communication and resolution.  It leaves the victim feeling abandoned, worthless, and without merit.  And while it is often defined as refusing to communicate, as I would often remind my former pastor, no communication is definitely a form of communication.  To not communicate expresses contempt, a lack of empathy, hostility, remorselessness, callousness, and passive-aggression.

In my case, as far as I can tell (because I have never directly been told) ostracism was the result in that I first pointed out a problem, and then I expressed dismay at the way I became the problem for pointing out the problem.  When the ostracism started and as it snowballed, I continued to ask, argue, beg, apologize, etc., which only brought on deeper and deeper levels of ostracism until, ultimately, we were tossed out of the church.

The results of being ostracized include:

* Being resented by the perpetrator.  He resented me because I kept asking what was going on – what I had done wrong.  He expected me to just “know” – or to read his mind.

*The victim (me) resented being made to suffer ostracism without being told what I had done wrong.  I’m sure this resentment showed through over the years as I continued to beg and argue to be told what I had done wrong and how un-Christian it was for him to allow me to be treated this way.

*Ostracism makes sure that resolution will not occur – how can you resolve a problem if you can’t talk about it?  Years of being ignored and avoided . . .

*Creates a cycle of the same issue arising because it has not been resolved.  Did I mention begging?  Arguing?  Confessing anything and everything I could think of – to the point of giving more reason for being ostracized?

*Anger and frustration are elevated.  Only proving that I was deserving of the ostracism.

*Kills the relationship.  Yep.

Ostracism robs people of their humanity in that it denies them belonging, value, and meaningfulness, and the ability to express their point of view.  It makes us feel that we are invisible, unwanted, unneeded, unworthy, unwelcome, unnecessary.

Interestingly, the abuser often turns the tables on the victim by claiming victimhood themselves.  They vilify the victim and incite others to abuse them by proxy.  This is why the pastor himself never personally spoke to me when I was told I was not to be involved in the church other than warming a pew.  He always had others carry the messages to me.  It is also why any attempts on my part to clear the air or to be understood by others in the group (church) were met with the proxy feigning confusion, misunderstanding, and an inability to see or acknowledge the true problem.  And, once we were tossed out of the church, and damage control was enforced, no one in the church ever contacted us to see how we were doing, what our side of the story might be, or what they might do to help.

There was a time when I would have read an article like this with deep shame.  Why did I grovel?  Why didn’t I just walk away and shake the dust from my feet?  But today, I know that I was operating from a belief that these were good people and I just hadn’t found the right words to get through to them.  Today, I’m not so naive.  Today, I know that people can be very intentional in their abusive behavior and I am not responsible for their choices.

If you have been the victim of ostracism, shunning, exile, banishment, the silent treatment, the cold shoulder, being ignored or excluded – all in the name of Jesus – please know that you are not responsible for others’ bad behavior.  You are loved.  You are valued.  You are worth far better than they were able to give.




  1. “Interestingly, the abuser often turns the tables on the victim by claiming victimhood themselves.”

    Yep! And so the victim of the abuse becomes the ‘problem’ that needs to be got rid of. It’s truly diabolical!

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