The Underlying Message of Silence—Intended or Unintended

“Inherent in Your Silence is Acceptance” ~LMB


The underlying message of silence, like it or not, is acceptance. This is particularly true for hurtful offenses. In fact, the bigger the offense—responded to by silence—the louder a message of acceptance is being conveyed. This is an often unspoken truth in courtrooms, offices and even homes.
•    If that really happened, why didn’t you say anything when it happened?
•    If your boss really did harass you, why did you not tell anyone? Why didn’t you stand up to him when he did it, report it to HR or even tell a colleague?
•    Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do you really think that if she was raped she wouldn’t tell a soul for several days?
•    If he grabbed your privates as you said he did, why then did you not hit him or tell him to stop or . . . I don’t know . . . do anything?

The doubts, questioning and disbeliefs run rampant with silence. If the issue at hand is a possible crime, such as sexual harassment, rape assault, etc., then the silence leaves extreme doubts within a system that already has significant biases. Silence however, sends the same message of acceptance with non-criminal issues as well.
•    What do you mean you want a divorce because I rage? You’ve never said anything about my anger. Everyone gets angry!
•    You knew I was quiet when you married me. You’ve never said anything about being unhappy. I thought you just accepted that about me.
•    Why are you so mad that I’m calling you at 9 pm? I’ve called you at this time for years. I thought you preferred that I called after your kids were in bed.

If you don’t like something that someone is doing, yet say nothing, they are likely to continue doing it. The world cannot read your mind—nor should it have to. When we silence to criminal behaviors, we make it easier for the perpetrators to get off without punishment. When we silence to our friends and loved ones about their behaviors with us, we teach them that what they’re doing is working.

We choose to silence for many reasons: fear, hopelessness, not knowing what to do/say, possible retaliation, self-protection, not wanting to start conflict and on and on. We owe it to ourselves, though, to stop the silencing. Regarding crimes, assault, rape, harassment, etc., are serious offenses that can alter your entire life. If the victims continue to stay silent, the criminals will continue to thrive and find more victims. Regarding everyday relationships, your silence sends the message that everything is great. If it’s not great, don’t silence.

Challenge: Inherent in your silence is acceptance. If something is not acceptable, DON’T SILENCE.

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