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  • Olivia Sanders
    Olivia Sanders

    5 Reasons Why Hanging Up Could Be Seen As Abuse

    As the saying goes, "The pen is mightier than the sword," and it is fair to say that our words can have a profound impact on others. However, in today's digital age, the conversation has shifted. Now, it's not just about what we say, but also about how we choose to end a conversation — particularly, the act of abruptly hanging up on someone. This action carries a weight of its own, and it is important to dissect it further to understand its implications better.

    Hanging up on someone during a conversation has traditionally been seen as rude or disrespectful, an act of showing outright disregard for the other person's sentiments. However, the discourse around this behavior has recently been changing, with some people viewing it as a form of abuse. Is this assertion valid? If so, under what circumstances, and how can we identify and manage such scenarios? In this article, we explore five reasons why hanging up on someone could potentially be perceived as an abusive action, and we delve into the nuances that differentiate between emotional abuse and boundary setting.

    1. Disempowerment Through Disconnection: The first and perhaps the most compelling argument for hanging up being a form of abuse lies in the power dynamics that it creates. When one person unilaterally decides to terminate a conversation, they effectively remove the other person's opportunity to communicate, express their feelings or defend their point of view. This act can leave the person on the other end feeling disempowered, unheard, and invalidated, which can be a form of emotional abuse.

    2. Emotional Manipulation: The abrupt termination of a conversation could also be seen as a means of emotional manipulation. This manipulation occurs when the person hanging up uses this action as a weapon to control the other person's emotions, responses, and behavior. By hanging up, they avoid having to deal with the situation or the emotional implications of the conversation, effectively evading responsibility.

    3. Exerting Control and Dominance: Hanging up on someone can also be a power play, a means to exert control and dominance over the other party. The act of hanging up first gives the person a sense of control over the conversation and, by extension, over the person they're communicating with. It sends a clear message: "I have the power to decide when this conversation ends." If this behavior becomes a pattern, it can potentially evolve into an abusive dynamic.

    4. Fear Induction: In some cases, the act of abruptly hanging up can induce fear or anxiety in the other party. This tactic could be used to maintain an upper hand in the relationship and keep the other person in a state of apprehension. If the person on the other end constantly fears that you might hang up on them, they may find themselves walking on eggshells, afraid to speak their mind or express their feelings. This fear and anxiety can, over time, turn into an emotionally abusive dynamic.

    5: Instigation of Guilt: Another angle to consider is the instigation of guilt. Some people may hang up during a conversation to make the other person feel guilty or to blame them for the situation. By doing this, they shift the focus from the actual issue at hand to the other person's supposed fault, thereby diverting attention and escaping accountability.

    However, it's important to note that the mere act of hanging up on someone does not always equate to abuse. There are circumstances where this behavior might be justified, or at the very least, understandable. It's necessary to recognize these nuances to avoid broad generalizations.

    1. Boundary Setting and Self-Protection: In some cases, hanging up may be an act of setting boundaries, especially during a heated argument or when the other party is being abusive or disrespectful. For instance, if the person on the other end is yelling, insulting, or violating your personal boundaries in any way, hanging up can serve as a means of self-protection.

    2. Preventing Escalation: Sometimes, hanging up can be a way to prevent the escalation of a conflict. If a conversation is going downhill, getting increasingly heated, and both parties are unable to arrive at a resolution, choosing to end the conversation temporarily might be the best course of action.

    Context matters. The intent and pattern behind the act are as important, if not more so, than the act itself in defining it as abusive. Rather than focusing solely on the action, it's critical to look at the broader dynamics of the relationship and the behaviors associated with it.

    Now that we have a deeper understanding of the nuances and implications of hanging up during a conversation, let's explore the strategies that can help handle situations where this behavior is perceived as abusive or harmful. It's worth noting that these solutions are not one-size-fits-all. The best approach depends on the dynamics of the relationship, the individuals involved, and the context of the situation.

    1. Open Communication: The first step in dealing with the issue is addressing it openly. If you feel hurt or disrespected when someone hangs up on you, express your feelings to them in a calm and assertive manner. Use "I" statements to express your emotions and avoid blaming the other person. For instance, instead of saying "You are rude for hanging up on me," you could say, "I feel disrespected when you hang up on me during our conversations."

    2. Setting Boundaries: If the behavior continues despite your communication, it may be necessary to set boundaries. This could involve informing the other person that if they hang up on you, you will not be available for a conversation until they are willing to discuss things respectfully. boundaries are not about controlling the other person's behavior, but about managing your own actions and reactions.

    3. Seeking Professional Help: In cases where hanging up is part of a broader pattern of abusive behavior, it may be necessary to seek professional help. This could involve seeing a therapist or counselor, either individually or as a couple or group, depending on the nature of the relationship. Professional guidance can provide the tools and techniques to manage and overcome abusive behavior.

    4. Disengagement: In extreme situations, where the abuse continues unabated despite your best efforts, you may need to consider disengaging from the person exhibiting the abusive behavior. This is a significant decision that requires careful thought and potentially professional guidance, but in certain circumstances, it can be an important step in protecting your mental and emotional well-being.

    The act of hanging up on someone during a conversation can be a form of abuse, depending on the context, intent, and pattern of the behavior. However, it's equally important to acknowledge that in some scenarios, hanging up could also be a means of setting boundaries and protecting oneself.

    The key to differentiating between these contexts lies in understanding the nuances of the behavior and the dynamics of the relationship. With this knowledge in hand, we can better navigate the complexities of our interactions, promoting healthier and more respectful communication patterns.

    While communication can be challenging, it's the foundation of our relationships. As we continue to grow and evolve in our digital age, we must strive to ensure our communications—whether face-to-face, over the phone, or in the digital realm—reflect empathy, respect, and understanding.


    1. “The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond” by Patricia Evans.
    2. “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships” by Marshall B. Rosenberg.

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