41 comments on “Silent Treatment (Worst Form Of Emotional Abuse)

  1. I have a sister-in-law who uses this on me repeatedly. Actually, she has been doing this to me for years. The most recent time was last week. I was saying goodbye to her, and she would not acknowledge me. My husband and I were leaving an event, and with her standing right there(approx. 2ft. from me I said, “see you later Annie”…no response. I said again,” bye Annie, see you later”…nothing. My husband (Annie’s husband’s brother) then said to her, ANNIE…someone says goodbye to you TWICE, and you ignore them?”! My husband was very angry. Her reply was. “leave it alone”. My husband then said..”leave WHAT alone? Her response made no sense, nor does her constant use of the silent treatment. I refuse to ask her what is wrong. This woman is 61. I’m sick of this childish behavior of hers…just plain ignorant! Enough is ENOUGH!

    • I have had this friend for too many years to count. About 3 days before Thanksgiving her sister comes and I call and my friend does not answer the phone but a recording is on to leave a message and it is my friend’s voice reading the message off of a paper I know her sister wrote for the message so she can screen her calls. I knew that if her sister was there she never answered her phone. BUT, I call the next day 2 times, and then the next day and the next day and told her to call me on each one and she never did. Now it is February 8th, 2016. She has not called me. I did see her car sneaking by my house looking a few times. Is she crazy or just a devil? 3 months have passed now. She told me once that she had me buffaloed.

    • I have aspergers. I think I’m a great friend, but sometimes words don’t come to me, so I can’t even reply to a question or have to walk away from a conversation. If someone,doesn’t talk to you, there’s probably a reason. Maybe they don’t have the right words or you’ve made them so uncomfortable they just can’t talk to you anymore. Sometimes silence just is, and shouldn’t be taken as a personal,attack. Remember, life isn’t always about you

  2. Pingback: Silent Treatment | A Passionfruit in Kiwiland

  3. I had an ex girl friend who did this during the break up.She would just flip a switch on and off of when she wanted to talk to me. When I did contact her I was humilated by her and told I was sharing too many feelings. She made me feel horrible inside. Worthless. I began apologising anytime we did talk, if we did talk. I really thought it was all my fault. Reading this article has been helpful in recognizing the pain I felt. It is abusive.

  4. Reading this I just realized why I have always disliked it when I have been ignored in any form from anyone. My mother has always given me the silent treatment. The most recent was this past January 2016. I still don’t know why. The joy was taken out of a happy moment in my life because of her abuse.

  5. What about the people who shut down as a result of narcissistic abuse? Clearly they learn the silent treatment, although not effective, acts as a form of self protection when all other methods of communication have failed in the relationship. I think it’s important to look at functions of behavior on both sides or someone with PTSD risks further abuse by being labeled as narcissistic

  6. My boss does this to us. She is the owner. There are 3 girls that work for her. She pits us against each other. She gives the silent treatment, won’t let us speak to each other, uses aggressive body proximity to move us around the building. It is slow torture.

  7. I feel conflicted about this. After years of being in an abusive relationship until I learned it doesn’t have to be physical violence, I understand what the person is saying. But if I am hurting, I need time to withdraw, pull my thoughts together, calm down and sort things out. If I try to discuss (whatever it is) with my partner before I have that space, I know he will discredit what I say, attempt to justify his behaviour, and devalue my feelings. I will be “wrong”, or at fault for his behaviour or my reaction to it. He sees it as silent treatment if I tell him that I need time to myself until we can discuss the problem rationally. Your feedback is welcome. (to clarify, after a divorce, education on abuse, sobriety and a long slow process, I am in a relationship with the same partner).

    • It’s not really silent treatment if you are willing to talk enough to say you need space to think and work out your thoughts before talking about it tho. You aren’t just blanking out their existence. You are acknowledging their need to talk about the issue while also making a clear boundary for your own emotional health. It’s not like you wouldn’t ask, what do you want for dinner or something else unrelated to the issue that needs working through. What you are doing is self care while still acknowledging the other person.

  8. I was abused by my ex like this. It is horrible behavior and should I ever encounter it again, I will walk away and give them the feather bc they’re not worth the whole bird..

  9. Would’nt you have to do the same in releasing and dis-associating yourself from a narcissist? Couldn’t they, then turn around and say you are the abuser?

  10. Hi I want to Thankyou for publishing this . There needs to be more information out there for this type of abuse. Our daughters need to learn how to be treated and how to handle this . Thankyou for helping the healing process .

  11. My mother did that to my dad, & to me. When I was a child I didn’t see it, of course. In my 20′, & 30’s I felt horribly invisible I called it being transparent. My ex husband also treated me in similar ways. I didn’t realize how hurtful it was or why I allowed it. My sweet dad finally committed suicide. That really broke my heart & sent me on ,a journey to try & get some clarity. Treating the people you say you love with the silent treatment is very cruel.

  12. AI have 3 sisters who have turned on me for 3-4 decades. But they asked me to attend Thanksgiving .xmas! Then they ditched me again. My niece is soon getting married and I am not going! Mt only child attends with his wife and both my grand kids go to all kinds of functions with my sisters and their husbands. I’m 71 and I live alone but live very close to them. The pain is horrible. I thot it was going to be ok but now the one who lives out of town and we got close last xmas. She was going to do the letters from ww2 that my dad had sent mother. Then she stopped talking on phone or text. Then I heard she came here to attend a party for niece and everyone went but me. My 8 yr old granddaughter told me they all went and that the out of town sister came within a few miles and never even called me. I need to let go but it’s hard cause I’m alone and don’t go out much I’m crippled and in pain. Any suggestions?

  13. I have a brother in law who barged into our bedroom while my husband and I were nude and just stood there staring at us, he made very rude comments at our wedding and then when his mother died he had the nerve to completely ignore me and my husband, not look, speak or be in the same room as us.
    I think this is how evil people act. I was the one who should of walked away from him! Ignored him.
    Anyhow I agree with this article, this is the highest form of abuse, it’s rude, cruel and highly manipulating.

  14. I had a boyfriend who put me in “timeout” anytime we got in a fight (usually we had been drinking). He started out with 3 days and each time it happened, he would add a day. I couldn’t see him, call him, text, nothing….he told me it was better than us breaking up and convinced me so. After I got out of the situation, I realized only then how bad it was.

  15. Reblogged this on A Journey Into A Unique Mind and commented:
    Not a type of abuse I copped much in my first marriage thankfully, so not something that bothers me much on a personal level (for me, it’s lies and hypocrisy that bother me) but yet, on a non-personal level, I find this type of emotional abuse to be one of the most disgusting because, just like the physical abuser who targets their blows to leave no visible injuries, the avoidant abuser uses silent treatment to hide the damage they are doing, to claim they are not abusers and aren’t “doing anything wrong”

  16. I need to reach out. Please anyone, who has gone through this devastating loss of everything that matters ,all because I could not please my husband. Yes I’m in counseling, yes I take antidepressants, nothing works … He won’t stop. He cheated on me had the son we were trying to have, he is wealthy and corrupt and a lier and a thief. He began his ‘game plan’s while we were still married created lies and reported them to all who would listen. They couldn’t prove anything against me, I was stay at home he built a small empire and got the lawyer. They took my girls, just babies. HE IS A SELF ADMITTED HEROIN AND ALCOHOL ABUSER. Prayer and time has returned my babies to me for brief moments of time. He keeps creating drama and more lies, I cannot afford anymore corrupt lawyers who have taken over$20000 and not shown ANY OF THE TRUTH. WILL PEOPLE PLEASE PRAY FOR US? I KNOW IT IS THE ONLY WAS TO BE WITH MY BELOVED BABIES. I AM MISSING THEIR LIVES. JILL

  17. After almost 2 years of being literally stuck in a relationship that has been one argument after another, being criticized for anything and everything and not being able to discuss any issue without being called names or ridiculed to the point of tears; I have decided to not engage my so called partner in any conversation (I want him to leave and he won’t) does this make me abusive?

    • No. And I don’t think this piece of writing above is nuanced enough to distinguish between needed distancing and abusive silencing.
      Since you wrote a year ago, I hope you were able to move on with your life without this partner.

  18. I think when someone goes silence is to avoid an argument & to avoid an argument it avoids any argument turning physical.

  19. I coach men doing silent treatment to their partners…and it takes a lot of time to get them to own their behavior as more than a healthy way to escape conflict, but as a truly damaging weapon in the marriage war…Only when we can reconstruct the childhood circumstances that taught them to build a shield of silence and emotional restraint, and they see it, and own it as the mental model that they use in all their life, they can see that the wife is now the target. It is not pretty, and I saw some of those men cry when they realize how damaging that behavior is to the person who actually is loving them…
    You could ask: how to stop them confusing the actual partner with the terrible parent of their past? it takes a while, and you have to get some serious psychological work going, but in some cases, there is progress and a reciprocal acceptance. If the wife realizes that she is not the real target, but that he is doing the only behavior he knows…(looking at him as a psychological cripple ) there is a little room to negotiate changes in the relationship…Anyhow, the cold shoulder is really destructive and can reduce a marriage to ashes in a short time…nothing conveys lack of interest and contempt like it!

  20. Reblogged this on Daymoon Rising and commented:
    This is how I was parented by my adoptive parents, after the ultimate “silent treatment” of being abandoned by my blood relatives. Everyone thought they were “doing OK,” “doing better than my parents did,” “doing what was expected.” Everyone but me that is. Excellent post:

  21. It’s a very painful experience and it is very common but many people don’t regard this as a form of abuse but it is. Thanks for writing about it.

  22. When my mother did this, I always knew it was a buildup to a tirade, and that was the most frightening of all.

  23. My husband of almost 14 years uses this on me, and has for years, after the physical abuse pretty much stopped. I’m so tired of this. I can’t explain to anyone how tired of him and this situation I am. I lost my health being married to him, and I have no family or friends for support of any kind, whether it be in word or deed. Isolation. Loneliness. Too much sadness. I lost my health almost 10 years ago, and I think it was due in part to my husband’s treatment of me. I can honestly say he never, ever loved me, nor respected me, and my life has been a living Hell being married to him. I want so badly to leave this situation. It is easy for people to say ‘just leave then’. I can barely walk, or even breathe, because of all the long list of health issues I developed in this situation, and I have nowhere to go, literally. I have nothing and I have no one. Now, if I had my health, I’d have some options, like to be physically able to get a job, and to have my own money, and get back on my feet, and simply stash some away, and when he least expects it, just leave. I dream of that. I cover myself up completely before leaving the house for any reason, because I don’t want to be seen. I’ve felt invisible and like there is something wrong with me for over a decade now, and it’s taken its toll on me in more ways than one. I even wear sunglasses (even when there is no sun) because I don’t want anyone to see my eyes, because if someone takes the time to look into my eyes, my eyes will tell them everything. My soul is hurt deeply. smh

    • I’m so sorry to read about your plight. There are organizations that help battered and broken down people like yourself. Please contact one of those groups for battered women.

    • Vee…it’s exactly one year since you posted this heartfelt respond to the silent treatment. I am so so sorry you had to go thru this. Friday is my birthday and i contacted someone i love so much to go to this awesome horse show in Chicago. http://Www.cavalia.com
      I got a no thanks. In the silent treatment now. Known her for 14 years.
      This post read was so eye opening for me. My Dad did this to our family and me sometimes. Thinking of sending this to him now. You think i should.

  24. Reblogged this on diana iannarone and commented:
    Well said. The key is to remember that no holds your life line…and therefore you can let go. Easier said than done, I know. Those that can’t communicate or won’t communicate will not ever be able to create or maintain a loving relationship. Not with you, or anyone…so no need to sweat out whoever came in their life next, it will be more of the same. Don’t delude yourself into believing they have moved on to a happy life or relationship. It can’t be done.

  25. I had a stepdad that didn’t talk to me for a year. He was very abusive to my mother. Always swearing at her, calling her stupid and worse. I don’t know the extent of the physical abuse. I likely didn’t see the bruises. Absolutely horrible way to grow up. He and his parents were alcoholics. Great combination for abuse. It makes me very sad that my mother chose to stay and put up with it. She thought she wouldn’t be able to afford to live on her own. I told her once that I would rather be broke and happy. The wisdom of children.

  26. My mother’y way to raise me up! 30 years of this treatment, until I could say “NO! FU!” to her and moved out. This treatment is perfect to communicate someone: “You are guilty for everything, what happened!” I hate it!
    But in the last two years, all changed for me 🙂 ❤

  27. I’m dealing with this at work. I am a bus aid and the driver refuses to say anything to me except to tell me what I am not allower to do. As I am trying to maintain my professionalism this is eating me alive. I am just out of a narcissistic relationship and this is causing me greet anxiety and depression, not to mention bringing my PTSD to the for front. Any advise is welcome.

  28. I so get this
    People do it all the time without realising how much damage it causes
    And I may be guilty of doing to avoid talking but it’s become so clear how much pain it can cause people

  29. Reblogged this on Caterpillar To Butterfly and commented:
    As an adult child of a mother that did this to me constantly, I have put up with it far too long as an adult instead of normal adult communication. I am no longer six years old and need to stop trying to fix what was not all my fault just to beg someone to talk to me. I’ve struggled to where I am today and I will not allow myself to endure this abuse.

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