If you are living with someone who is giving you the silent treatment and you need some help and advice for how to handle the situation, please do not hesitate to contact me be doing the following:
Cooling Off And Ostracizing Are Two Very Different Things

Do not confuse the silent treatment with something known as “the cooling off period”. The cooling off period is where one person is so angry or disgusted by the other person that they just cannot deal with the situation in that state, and need time to calm down before they begin to speak to this person. That’s normal and should be allowed in a relationship. But purposely ignoring and refusing to hear or talk to a person is wrong, intentional, manipulative, and demonstrates extreme calculation and cruelty on how to hurt another person, or even drive them crazy.
Patricia Jones, M.A.
The Silent Treatment
Browse Counseling Categories
Important Information
Articles by Patricia Jones, M.A.
Inspirational Videos
Copyright © 2006 - 2014 Dove Christian Counseling Center. All Rights Reserved
Tell a friend about this page
Protected by Copyscape Online Plagiarism Check
Accept Credit Cards
Search





The Silent Treatment - A Form of Abuse

Just about the worst form of abuse is the Silent Treatment. Which is someone who is in the same room as you are, but who is acting like you don't exist. They don't speak to you, they do not answer your questions or make comments on your statements, they completely ignore you and act as if you are invisible.  And it works because nothing makes us madder than someone who we KNOW hears us, sees us, and knows without a shadow of a doubt that we exist, act as if we are not even there! We feel a "rage" rising from somewhere deep inside of us when we are ignored.
I believe the silent treatment is the worst form of emotional abuse. It is, in all reality, a punishment because it makes you feel like a non--person, who is not valued or cared about, and they make you feel as if you are completely out of their thoughts.  It is really all about CONTROL because the abuser really DOES KNOW that you are speaking to him or her, they do know that you exist, and that you are THERE. It is emotionally abusive instead of physically abusive and even worse because there are no scars that can be seen by an outside observer.
I have seen mother-in-laws give the "silent treatment" to daughter-in-laws, or son-in-laws, when their child is not in the room, completely ignoring them, and then when their child walks back in the room, all of a sudden they will start talking to the daughter-in-law or son-in-law, being very friendly, as if just five seconds ago they had not been giving them the silent treatment. This is so their child will think that their parent likes their spouse. And then when the spouse tries to tell their mate what REALLY happened while they were out of the room, meaning they were completely ignored by the family member, their spouse does not believe them. This is just one example of how the silent treatment can work.
Silent treatment is a form of torture to someone that they profess to love.  People who abuse others by using the silent treatment have learned that it works, so they use it over and over again. It makes the victim more frustrated than any other form of abuse and it allows the abuser to avoid any confrontations, any uncomfortable questions or subjects that they don't want to talk about, and it gives them a way to get out of any accountability to their spouse.

The silent treatment is a method the abuser uses to 'kill' you for something you have done. In a sense, you have been psychologically "murdered " by them, but your physical life goes on.
Excuses that the abuser uses to justify their silent treatment of you include:

I needed to have some space
I thought you needed some space
I was feeling depressed and didn't want to drag you down with me
I thought we both need a cooling off period
I felt threatened/insulted/hurt and reacted with fear and isolation
I just needed some time alone to think
I didn't want to fight
You told me to leave you alone
Problems from my past came up and I needed to sort them out
Of course these excuses are just one more way for the abusers to blame somebody or something else for his abuse.

What is really going on though is the more they ignore you, the more you want to fix it. And that is what they get such satisfaction out of which is watching you squirm and "jump through hoops" to try to get them to pay attention to you and to communicate with you. It is a real EGO BOOST for them and they actually get a RUSH from the entire experience. It also puts them in control and gives them tons of attention, from you.
Really nice godly people do not give the silent treatment to others. They listen, they communicate, they respond back and they engage and participate in the conversation. Even if they disagree they still will treat you with respect.

The silent treatment is never about love. It is denying to another human being, the person that one is supposed to be the closest to on this earth, your affection and your interest. There is a saying that the worst thing you can do to someone is not hate them but to be "totally indifferent" to them. If you hate them at least you care enough to hate them. But when you are indifferent to them you really DO NOT CARE at all.
Abuse is Abuse. And abuse is never ok. In one way though, the silent treatment is far worse than other forms of abuse, because it indirectly says to you that you are not a person, you are an object, you are invisible because they choose to make you so because you are not worthy of their time. THAT is one of the most hurtful and abusive things to do to another human being. It is a horrible feeling, being ignored and denied affection.
Usually the silent treatment occurs when you do something that the abuser does not like or approve of in their book. Or when you dare to disagree with them or actually point out something wrong that they did.  And then Wham, you get punished by them not speaking to you for days, or sleeping elsewhere, or choosing to not even be in the same physical area that you are in. They make you feel as if you are a leper.  They may also disappear for hours, making you worry about where they are.  And it is all calculated to drive you crazy.
How does one reason with someone who is so immature you think they are a child? Or so selfish that they would treat you like this while at the same time saying that they love you? The truth is you can't reason or gain any ground with someone who acts like this. It is a "no win " situation and you can waste your entire life trying to make it work.
Add this page to your favorites.
If you have been helped by this article on The Silent Treatment and would like to help support Dove Christian Counseling, you may make a donation below.