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Silent Treatment Abuse - What is it and Are YOU a Victim?

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Are you subject to repetitive cycles of silent treatment from your partner?

Are you subject to repetitive cycles of silent treatment from your partner?

Do you hate it when your partner gives you the silent treatment and constructively stops communicating with you for days/weeks on end? Until relatively recently, I had no idea that repetitive not speaking/silent treatment could be viewed as a form of manipulative emotional abuse. The silent treatment from my partner happened on a regular basis and this seemingly never ending cycle made me feel a mixture of very damaging emotions such as resentment, depression, unworthiness, anger and more.

If you too experience repetitive extended episodes of silence from your partner (often sparked by trivial matters) you'll benefit from taking a closer look at the what's happening and the consequences of what is a downward spiral.


What is Silent Treatment?

Silent Treatment has a number of other descriptions such as not speaking to someone, or only speaking when absolutely necessary and even then speaking in a monotone, being condescending, sarcastic etc. It can include distancing/isolating from a person; for example walking out of the room immediately after the person enters a room or shortly thereafter. Avoiding eye contact or looking at the person with an air of disgust are other actions which may be incorporated in the perpetration of the Silent Treatment. It might be referred to as ostracism, exclusion, sulking, sending to Coventry. Whatever form this passive aggressive behaviour takes, it is common for both the perpetrator and the victim to be unaware that it is a highly destructive form of emotional abuse. Althouth "not speaking" is a manipulative tool often favoured by narcissists, not everyone that uses silence abuse is a narcissist.

The uncommunicative person may also refrain from showing affection, love and/or respect from their target for an indefinite extended period.

It must be noted that the silent treatment can be distinguished from someone taking some healthy time out or wanting a little space following an awkward episode or disagreement. These latter exercises involve having a reasonable and limited amount of time to cool down and take stock - for example a couple of hours up to half a day - whereas with the silent treatment it continues for longer periods and the victim never knows when the abuser will deign to speak to them again.

Silent treatment emotional abuse can occur in various types of relationships - for example parent/child, teacher/pupil, employer/employee or a platonic friendship, and the abuser could be either party. However with this series of articles we are concerned with such treatment within a marriage/relationship.


How it feels to be on the receiving end of the Silent Treatment

Will it go on for a day, a week, a month or even longer? Not knowing when the silent treatment will end invokes anxiety in the person on the receiving end. In cases where a person can only guess as to the reason for their partner not communicating normally this also induces stress. The longer it lasts, and/or the more separate instances of alienation there are, the more the person on the receiving end of silence is likely to feel isolated, unworthy, depressed, etc.

Some victims describe it as akin to mental torture which leaves them broken and somewhat desperate to find ways to appease their abuser. Often the person on the receiving end will have no idea what they are expected to apologise for as the perpetrator will not actually clarify what they perceive the victim to have done wrong. Stonewalling/refusal to answer questions or discuss a problem can be extremely hurtful. Often, no amount of asking the perpetrator what is wrong will get the victim anywhere. The response they get is simply “nothing” or “I’m fine” when clearly this is not the case. Many victims will even apologise when they believe they have done nothing wrong!

Alternatively a victim may feel angry, frustrated or insulted at such treatment and may be tempted to engage in tit-for-tat silent treatment. This can simply lead to a stalemate situation or at best only limited benefit, and so is to be avoided.

It is not unusual for an extended period of not speaking to emanate from a very petty initial trigger. Nevertheless, when the silent treatment becomes a pattern in the relationship it will lead to bitterness and a slow, subtle weakening of the union which, if left unchecked, could signal the end of it.

The silent treatment can be intimidating and isolating, leaving a person at a loss as to how to handle it and baffled as to the reason why the person they love would want to be so cold and immature as to engage in such passive aggression over the smallest thing. They may spend many hours trying to understand things from the abuser’s perspective in an effort to reason with them and resolve things, often to no avail. As time goes by the victim may well agonise at not being able to find a way to end the silence and get back to normal and wonder just how much longer they can endure such behaviour.

Silent Treatment - Click here to look at how to strengthen the relationship when you are back on speaking terms.

Silent Treatment - Click here to look at how to strengthen the relationship when you are back on speaking terms.

Consequences of this Emotional Abuse

Whether or not they are fully conscious of what they are actually doing, silent treatment is a form of passive aggressive abuse on the part of the perpetrator. Time and time again the abuser uses silence to exert control, dominance and power. Meanwhile, although the victim hates the silence, they may be unaware that they are effectively being manipulated or bullied.

In marriages where there is regular occurrence of silent treatment it makes for a slow but sure path to deep seated resentment and most certainly resentment can be a death knell to the bond the couple initially shared.

Dreading the Silences

So, do you find your partner predictably and frequently stops speaking to you for long indefinite periods (whether it's a petty argument and/or a more serious matter)?

Do you feel increasing or extreme stress, upset, anger and/or frustration at the prospect of yet another episode of silent treatment?

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Do you feel a nagging, growing resentment at the unfairness or futility of it all?

If your answers are yes and/or you identify with much of what was said in previous paragraphs, then you may well be a victim of silent treatment emotional abuse in your relationship.

However, please be aware that it is never too late, or indeed too soon, to do something about diminishing and breaking this emotional ill-treatment/abuse. If you are a victim, there are strategies you can use to change your own sensitivity and response so that you can more effectively deal with the Silent Treatment. Please know that it is indeed possible to stop walking on eggshells lest your partner stop speaking to you at the drop of a hat. Know that you can gain peace of mind and become significantly stronger, wiser and happier in the face of silent treatment.

Please go to the end of the page should you wish to add to the comments below, many of which are heartfelt and revealing. Your views are most welcome.

NEXT ...

Here's Part 1 of How to Cope with Silent Treatment

The above article gives you clear, practical explanations of what you need to actually DO to stop yourself feeling so miserable, upset and isolated plus how you can stop inadvertently making it worth your partner's while to habitually give you the cold shoulder. Moreover, in so doing it helps you prompt your partner to modify their own behaviour. It's time for people to realise that they can stop themselves from being so miserable when they are being given the silent treatment. It's never too late to become stronger, wiser, happier.

The Silent Treatment-STOP unintentionally encouraging it!

Related Article

  • 12 Warning Signs of Manipulation
    "When you get enough inner peace and feel really positve about yourself, it is almost impossible for you to be controlled or manipulated by anyone else." -Wayne Dyer

© 2012 Ebonny

Comments - Are you a victim of the Silent Treatment emotional abuse in your relationship/marriage?

Ebonny (author) from UK on August 23, 2018:

Hi Browndog - It's good to know from this update that you are now free from the treatment you endured for so long. Thank you for your insight and recommendations based on your experience and, as tempting as it is, I certainly agree it's a waste of time and effort to try to compete. I was interested to learn how you went about extricating yourself from the relationship, and sincerely wish you (and your furry friend) all you wish yourself for the future. Best regards Ebonny.

Browndog 2719 on August 23, 2018:

Wow. I found some typos in my post that reversed the intended meaning. Hope it can be replaced with this one--don't need two.

As a follow-up to comments two years ago, I divorced the narcissistic abuser. This column simply supported what EVERY other qualified source from my counselor to the books recommended by my counselor to my online support group. Everything followed the same pattern.

Having a dog was the best resource that I had at home. When the gaslighting or silent degradation started, I just took the dog and we went for a long walk, to a dog park or for drive up in the mountains for a longer hike. i threw myself into frequent tai chi practice and into a couple of research projects with colleagues from around the country that resulted in coming together for conference presentations and peer-reviewed journal presentations. It was fascinating work. I volunteered for progressive political candidates and served as a precinct leader and a party delegate to the county and state conventions. Every healthy activity I did brought some deliberately hurtful comment or attempt to tear down the value of it from the Ex. "How could yeeeww ever author a math paper?" "You are not a very good scientists or you would be at Harvard." This from a person who never finished college or anything in life that required inconvenience and committment. "Oh--the followers of that candidate aren't serious at all. They just want the adrenaline rush of 'the revolution.'" That coming from a person who never committed to walking door to door to get out a vote but was the first to advocate for going on parade to protest the results of that inaction.

As you make a life for yourself, just take it as a fact that you will suffer indignities at the hands of a narcissist. They are threatened by our taking initiative. No matter how healthy the choices we take, they will ALWAYS find reason to deprecate them because these were our choices, not theirs being made for us.

When we signed our divorce agreement, I paid my NW handsomely for our dog. That was the only love that I had in my house; I committed to taking that love with me, and I did. After experiencing the degradation and discard that narcissists do when they get tired of something or someone, I was not about to leave my little brown companion to experience what I did. While she was a "rescue dog," I think she was the being that rescued me. My counselor also noted her value in keeping me in a healthy state of mind. The "rescue" was mutual.

Only a few people really knew what was occurring in my home. Outside of people who must know, like life-long friends and family, counselor, and groups like this where one can vent without being destructive. I advise AGAINST bad mouthing a narcissist as they do to us. I think that narcissists want us to behave badly because it gives them support and misguided sympathy from others to continue to do harm to us. Literature on narcissists, describes the worst of such "others" as "flying monkeys." They like to back-bite and join into mobbing. A danger in reacting to a narcissist is the temptation to respond in kind and getting you to act just like they do. It's easy to fall for, because we want to give them a taste of what they are doing to us. The problem with that "hit 'em back" response is that they have no feelings for what they are doing to us and are incapable of feeling any in-kind response. Becoming like them degrades us.

When a narcissist commits to destroying their home life and you with it, there's nothing that you can do other than to start to make a life for yourself. When emotional damage starts to take its toll, I think we have an obligation to get ourselves out of their clutches. We damage ourselves by loving them. The hardest part of the process of extracting self from a narcissist's claws is to stop loving them. It took me years. My main advice to readers is that you have to TAKE ACTION to get yourself into a healthy life. Remaining in an unsalvageable situation is abusing a person--yourself.

Ebonny (author) from UK on August 14, 2018:

Hi Anton

Many thanks for sharing your situation and views. Being in a long distance relationship can certainly make dealing with silences even more challenging, but I do hope you might be able to adapt some of the strategies and principles in the articles which follow on from this one. Best regards. Ebonny.

Anton on August 07, 2018:

I am in a long distance relationship ship and it doesn't take half a day for this to feel like silent treatment abuse. All we have is our online communicaton. Take that away and we have nothing. Even just a few hours can create tension. And when it's obvious that I am being ignored, when she admits it herself that she has been ignoring me, it has pointed me in the direction of reading this article.

Ebonny (author) from UK on July 30, 2016:

Hi Alay

Thank you for sharing your views and I must agree with you. Although this article relates to Silent Treatment in marriage/relationships, I have no doubt it can emanate from racial prejudice and be extremely difficult to deal with, frustrating and/or devastating.

Alay on July 28, 2016:

"The silent treatment from my partner happened on a regular basis and this seemingly never ending cycle made me feel a mixture of very damaging emotions such as resentment, depression, unworthiness, anger and more."

Racially motivated silent treatments in daily life are the same thing and have the same effect.

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 15, 2016:

Hello Bethany

Thank you for sharing your situation and how you are coping. I am wondering if your husband can ever be as delightful with you as as he is with others. I note your frustration and sincerely hope that communication with him will improve so that you can have more peace of mind.

Hopefully some of my other articles about coping with silent treatment, and also the ones about coping with a passive aggressive partner, might give you some food for thought. I note what you say about focussing on work and children and it's good that this helps you in your situation – just do spare some time to positively focus on yourself because you, too, are important. Do be good to yourself - Ebonny

Bethany on March 05, 2016:

About 15 years ago my husband declared that he was disengaging because I was too emotional. We now have two children and he is delightful with them. We go out with freinds and he's delightful then too. The most he says to me is "are you going to put on your pajamas?" as I am trying to put the kids to bed. When I ask him how he's doing its always "fine." I get frustrated and I've even asked him if he even likes me. Nothing... I focus on work and kids. I haven't cried in years.

Ebonny (author) from UK on September 11, 2015:

Browndog - Thanks also for your second comment. Yes, relentless silent treatment from a person who purports to love and care about you can be soul destroying. I knew it from before I started writing on the subject but when I hear the personal stories it's still heartbreaking. I am glad to have the opportunity to give some food for thought to those on the receiving end of this form of emotional torture.

Ebonny (author) from UK on September 11, 2015:

Hi Browndog - Thank you for sharing your views and yes it’s VERY important to weigh up the considerations you highlight when in a relationship, and I believe that whether the silent partner is passive aggressive and/or narcissistic, there is no guarantee they will choose to stop giving silent treatment. With true narcissistic personalities it’s especially unlikely they can change.

The strategies in the articles are about the person on the receiving end of silence choosing to change their own response and attitude to being given the silent treatment and, as I have said a number of times in the series on silent treatment (and also the series on Passive Aggression), the ONLY person we can change is ourselves. In article 1 of the silent series, in the paragraph headed “About Leaving the Relationship” there is more on this but the general aim of the articles is to give a person being dealt the silent treatment some new approaches to help them cope better, and feel less frustrated, stressed and/or dejected etc. I am confident that for many people employing the strategies can work to bring this about and, being thus uplifted and empowered, it is often easier to objectively weigh up the good and bad in the relationship and, as you say, to assess what type of person the partner is, and next steps. Again thanks for reading and commenting.

Browndog2719 on September 10, 2015:

I am shaken by how the comments here show the damaging toll that the silent treatment takes on targeted victims. It converts the beautiful human capacity for reaching out with love and affection into an ugliness that dehumanizes. Meeting good-faith efforts for connection and understanding with indifference instills emptiness. Refusal to communicate seems aimed to instill sufficient emptiness to destroy the victim's capacity to reach out again.

Thank you for supporting this site. Our society has yet to recognize that starving a partner of affection and normal communication is calculated pure evil.

Ebonny (author) from UK on September 10, 2015:

Hi Browndog

Thank you for sharing your views and yes it’s VERY important to weigh up the considerations you highlight when in a relationship and whether the silent partner is passive aggressive and/or narcissistic, there is no guarantee they will choose to stop giving silent treatment. With true narcissistic personalities it’s especially unlikely they can change.

I think it’s important to stress that the strategies in the articles are about the person on the receiving end of silence choosing to change their own response and attitude to being given the silent treatment and, as I have said a number of times in the series on silent treatment (and also the series on Passive Aggression), the ONLY person we can change is ourselves. In article 1 of the silent series, in the paragraph headed “About Leaving the Relationship” there is more on this but the general aim of the articles is to give a person being dealt the silent treatment some strategies to help them cope better, and feel less frustrated, stressed and/or dejected etc. I am confident that for many people employing the strategies can work to bring this about and being thus empowered it is often easier to objectively weight up the good and bad in the relationship and, as you say, to assess what type of person the partner is. Again thanks for reading and commenting.

Browndog2719 on September 06, 2015:

Parts 1-6 can only work if you are dealing with a compassionate person who values his or her relationship. Consider whether the shunning and silent treatment come with any of these other traits. Do they justify their shunning from a position of superiority or entitlement ("I am a person of peace, and I cannot have inner peace when I communicate with you." "You just bring me down, and I am not normally that way.") Does the person doing the shunning refuse to go to couples counseling to learn how to communicate with put-downs such as "You go. There is something wrong with your brain." Is the person really depressed and silent, or are they the charming Dr Jeckyl to others and the abusive Mr or Mrs Hyde to you? Do they also avoid initiating hugs, holding hands, good night kisses good morning greetings or are you the only person initiating the love? Do they share friends and family, or do they compartmentalize you away from them? Do they say you are "too sensitive." Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells constantly when they are not silent? Do you feel as if nothing you do can please them? Do they show any interests in things like your work, hobbies, or activities? If any of these things are present, you are may be in the devaluation or discard phases of a narcisistic abuser. These are borderline psychopaths who cannot feel. Their silent treatment is hurting you because you have normal human feelings and need for love. They do not have this capacity, so no amount of positive coping on your behalf for any length of time will give it to them. Look up gaslighting and narcissistic abuse on the web. Look up emotional neglect. Silent treatment is a symptom of some things that are solvable with a partner with capacity for a relationship. A narcissist has no such capacity. Be sure what kind of partner you are dealing with.

Ebonny (author) from UK on April 20, 2015:

Hello Sam

Yes, it's extremely hurtful when this happens time and time again. Please do consider the suggestions in Part 1-6 for how to cope with silent treatment. (Links in the article above)

Sam on April 18, 2015:

My boyfriend gives me the silent treatment every time something is not to his liking or if he is upset/confused. This hurts tremendously. I've tried to convince him to communicate. What actions should I take during this time to help alter his actions of giving me a silent treatment?

Ebonny (author) from UK on February 13, 2015:

Hello again Abas

Once more, I am so sorry to learn of the systematic fashion in which your partner ignores and isolates you and that you have been driven to suicidal feelings. Unfortunately, such feelings are not unheard of in such circumstances (I admit I’ve been there too) and I sincerely hope that, if you have not done so already, you will read the how to cope articles in this series of hubs about silent treatment. (please see the links in the article above)

These articles suggest strategies for coping with silent treatment which you may not have considered in the past. Clearly what you have been doing is not working to improve your emotional health. What you are doing, i.e. the begging, pleading is what most people (myself included) have done in this situation. However it often only served to bring about even more oif this form of passive aggressive behaviour from a partner. Without knowing it, we make it worth their while to continue treating us this way.

I reiterate that responding in the way you have described is perfectly normal. It does not mean you are crazy or pathetic, even thought you may feel this way. Myself and countless others have responded to silent treatment in the exact same fashion - it’s instinctual. It is perfectly normal – but it is NOT helpful to your emotional health to continue responding in this way and this is why I would like to support you to change your response so that you can feel better about yourself and reclaim your emotional health.

It is not easy to change your response to silent treatment when you have been subject to it for perhaps years on end but if you feel you are at the point where you want to make changes to break this cycle in your relationship, and would like support in doing so, PLEASE do email me and I can further support you towards becoming you again.

Just don’t beat yourself up about how you have handled things thus far and I really look forward to hearing from you by email

With best regards, Ebonny

Ebonny (author) from UK on February 12, 2015:

Hello Abas

I will respond to you again later, but for the moment I just wish to convey how sorry I am to know what you are enduring. More importantly, however, please seek local help immediately if you are feeling suicidal. On the internet you can contact Befrienders International who provide emotional support to help prevent suicide.

I will respond again later. Can you please email me by copying and pasting the following into your address bar-

Thank you for sharing your situation and take good care.

abas on February 12, 2015:

My partner ignores me nonstop, sometimes for a month at a time. I can't cope with it anymore, i'm literally ignored for the slightest reason for hours and days and weeks. Even if it is detrimental to herself or our children, she will just systematically carry on ignoring me.

I have considered suicide because it is absolutely torturous. I feel degraded and worthless when she does it and I actually beg and plead for her to speak to me, then I loath myself for being so weak and pathetic.

She doesn't care how it affects our daily lives or our children. I feel so angry and helpless and frustrated and depressed and upset and lonely and tired and hateful and sadness and tormented and anxious all of the time because of this behaviour.

I have genuinely considered taking my own life just to have some peace from her mind games.

If I mention it to her on the rare occasion we are on speaking terms, she either becomes smug and practically taunts me over it, or pretends i'm crazy and exaggerating the whole thing.

Ebonny (author) from UK on January 19, 2015:

Hello “Is It Me”

So sorry to know what a hard time you are having. Depression coupled with getting silent treatment from the person you most want support from is difficult indeed. I am wondering which came first, the depression or the silent treatment and if you have seen your doctor about the depression for a diagnosis and treatment. Whichever came first, anyone feeling seriously at risk of doing something stupid/harmful/irrevocable should seek professional help WITHOUT DELAY and so go please see your health care provider/doctor. I feel sure you will benefit from their support to claw your way out of this cycle and slowly but surely turn things around. That is not to say that anyone can make your partner change his ways, but you can learn over time to consistently change your own response, take control of your emotions and lead a happier life whether you are in the relationship or not.

Also think about getting legal advice as regards your son, given that your partner has told you to go but that you must leave your son behind. Manipulation!

I am not sure if you have visited any of my pages about coping with silent treatment. It can be very difficult to break unhelpful old habits/instinctive ways of responding to silent treatment but where you say you “refuse to react” to unkind cutting jokes and sarcasm, it gives me optimism that you may seriously consider implementing the strategies suggested in the other articles. Please discuss same with a suitably qualified professional who can support you if you both agree that this is a way forward for you at this point.

Again I am sorry to learn of your situation and hope you are able to get help for the sake of both yourself and your son - even very young children can be influenced and scarred by the atmosphere they abide in.

Best regards, Ebonny

is it me? on January 17, 2015:

So many comments on here have echoed my situation.currently being given the silent treatment,or should I say I get a reply if I instigate the conversation but no more.They happen on a regular basis over small things or mistakes that I have usually done.Sometimes I don't know,and when I question him what it is,he can't give me an answer.Recently I haven't been able to cope with these bouts.I am suffering with depression and find it hard to keep myself together and end up crying and pleading,which I get a cold response.Christmas day I got upset the way he spoke to me over something trivial really, but he flew off the handle.Which ended in me being a complete emotional wreak.He wanted me to leave there and then,so I picked up our son and got ready to leave.He took our son off me and said he wasn't leaving.Obviously I didn't want to leave.At this stage I was at breaking point and begged him not to take my son from me.Throughout this out burst he was cool as a cucumber.At times like this I am close to doing something stupid,how close I'm not sure how far I would go.I have tried telling him how I feel which isn't easy.But he jokes about it or I get sarcastic comments.Which I refuse to react to.He thinks that my depression is something I put on I'm sure ,from the things that he says.I feel maybe if I wasn't suffering from depression things wouldn't be so volatile and perhaps I could shrug the sarcasm off,I don't know.All through this I do love him, I find it hard to show him especially as we have little closeness as we sleep in separate rooms as he says I snore...

I'm sorry for such a long winded post,this is the first time I have spoke of it and as 1 post says ,writing it down somehow helps.

Mona on December 14, 2014:

I'm going through a very tough time at moment. My husband has spent the last 7 weeks sleeping on the sofa because I asked him to stop snoring. We were all set to go to a very close friends wedding when he started to look for a little wooden spoon that was in the house it had only appeared and I threw it out because I thought it was no use. Well he started to shout and roar at me because his mum had given it to him and it was over 40 years old. I thought one of my grand kids had brought it up. Up to this point I've been asking him to talk to me and that Ian worried that we're drifting apart. He said I was imagining it . We have 3 children All grown up. We both work . We are in our 50 s . I wait on him hand and foot and for the last few months he dosent even make me a cup of tea . He was never good around the house but now when he comes in from work all he does is lies on the couch and is on the Internet he also goes fishing every weekend. We never do any thing together. I'm so confused and lonely and worried . If this silent treatment passes he will not address why it happened .He gives me smart answers the whole time .he also has put on massive weight I'm so worried about him and our relationship. I tried to wave the white flag but no response. I don't know what to do help.

Ebonny (author) from UK on October 27, 2014:

Hi Amanda

Sounds like out of necessity you have detached yourself from your husband. It's good that you have found peace. I imagine it most certainly is a huge challenge to make a break and I wish you and your family well for the future. Thank you for sharing.

Amanda on October 24, 2014:

my husband of 20 yr does this on a regular basis, I've recently gotten help and discovered that I'm suffering from emotional abuse in a variety of ways. Frankly, I like it when he's silent. Life's more peaceful. Now, though, I'm done. I have no feelings for him whatsoever, except, occasionally I feel pity towards him...I'm trying to figure out a way out, 4 kids, and 20 years makes logistics more difficult. Wish I quit him 22 years ago when he left me on the side of the road.

Ebonny (author) from UK on September 24, 2014:

Hello Day 3

So sorry you are going through this once again. I think I can well imagine how weary and resigned people become when they are repeatedly dealt the silent treatment by their partner. It's sad, but not altogether unsurprising, that you son has picked up and mirrored this negative and destructive behaviour.

However, I'm happy to hear you you are not in the habit of crying and begging forgiveness anymore. This is a great start but, if you have not done so already, please please do read my How to Cope articles on silent treatment. For those who decide to stay in the relationship for whatever reason, they must know that they can uplift themselves and not be totally defeated by silent treatment. Thank you for sharing your experience and I wish you well.

day 3 on September 21, 2014:

I've been dealing with this for 22 years of marriage - currently on day 3 - I used to cry & beg forgiveness but now I don't anymore - problems are rarely resolved & life just goes on once he's decided I've been sufficiently punished by his silence - on good days we are really great together & get along great which I suppose is why it hurts so bad - I don't believe these people will ever change & so the decision is whether it's worth it to stay & deal or move on. Here on day 3 in my 22nd year I am contemplating changing the way I interact with him on good days so as not to hurt so much when he does this - disconnect - I'm at my wits end & my son has also learned this behavior as a way to deal with his issues. I'm convinced that if I choose it, this is just how my life will be - I don't have any interest in trying to do life alone but I'm also feeling extremely weary of this type of treatment.

Ebonny (author) from UK on September 20, 2014:

Hello Hurting & Alone

Apologies for the delay in responding and thank you for your sharing your experience. If I understand you correctly you feel you have no option but to give your partner the silent treatment.

Retaliatory and/or initiatory abuse is not a means to a satisfying relationship. ALL the forms of abuse you speak of are just plain wrong. Feeling scared and isolated is very concerning and for the future I hope that you can both stop tolerating and/or perpetrating any form of “crazy” abuse. The paragraph under the heading “Are you the Silent One?” on Part 1, How to Cope with ST, also refers. I hope you will seek guidance from a suitably qualified professional with a view to feeling safe and at peace.

Hurting and Alone on September 17, 2014:

I have been reading so much and I have given the silent treatment mainly because he has emotionally and physically abused me in our marriage. I use the silent treatment to keep from having a situation escalated and cause more abuse. I am scared and feel completely alone so there needs to be an understanding that not all people that give the silent treatment are the abusers. My husband had a field day saying that I was crazy because of this article and many like it.

Ebonny (author) from UK on August 23, 2014:

Hi absinthe

Sorry to know you are having such a hard time. I can understand what you mean about believing yourself to be an independent savvy individual who stands for no nonsense and then finding yourself in a situation where you know you are being wronged but finding it difficult to simply get out. In these situations it’s very confusing and a person can end up feeling very frustrated with themselves as well as their partner. However, please don’t take it out on yourself by drinking or indeed anything else which will adversely impact your health.

If nothing you have tried so far to get him to communicate and stop the silences has helped, then do seriously considering giving the strategies in Parts 1-6 of this series of articles on silent treatment a go for a sustained period of time. There is no guarantee they will lead to a perpetually blissful relationship but they have the potential to change the dynamic in a relationship which can help a lot.

With your partner crying I’ll bet it makes you feel really sorry for him and/or somewhat guilty. Whether or not he consciously wants you to feel this way can be hard to fathom but there is much in the phrase “MISERY LOVES COMPANY”. If your partner is sad and refuses to share his thoughts with you that is his choice and as you have seen no amount of begging or pleading or the like is going to make him share. At this point, you might want to, matter of “factly”, let him know that you are very concerned to see him hurting and that you ARE there to listen to him if he should ever CHOOSE to share his woes with you. However, much like two wrong don’t make a right, one miserable uncommunicative person plus another frustrated confused person won’t make for a happy/contented couple and you owe it to yourself to get on with your life in a positive manner despite his choosing not to communicate with you.

I really appreciate your feedback and comments and wish you well for the future. Whether you stay or go, always look after yourself emotionally and physically. Regards, Ebonny.

Ebonny (author) from UK on August 20, 2014:

Hi Gianna

Although silent treatment is unjustifiable in my eyes, self awareness – i.e. thinking about what you may be doing that gives him his “reason” to give you the silent treatment, and how you might be encouraging his silence thereafter, is wise.

Six weeks is a very long time not to be communicating with a spouse. Not sure if couple counselling might be an option for you - worth considering.

Either way, difficult as it is I hope you will continue to strive to think positive and uplift yourself. I’m afraid I am not aware of local support groups but if you can email me via the following link I have a suggestion for you. Thank you for your comment and for sharing and my apologies for not responding more quickly.

absinthe on August 19, 2014:

Thank you for writing this article. I stumbled upon it while looking for a way to cope with my own boyfriends silent treatment periods. We've been together for 2 years now and this repetitive behaviour is driving me crazy. I've tried to confront him every time it happens but things just go on like he's never been guilty on this. Last time he went silent was 3 days ago, we were on a vacation with friends and, of course, I didn't expect this turn of events. He doesn't find it necessary to give a proper explanation for it. However, one of my friends told me she saw him crying. He often stops talking when he has some kind of a personal drama and I've tried everything to make him tell me things, with no effect. Now I'm crying, shaking and drinking all the time, my stomach has never been so devastated and the worst part is when I start thinking about myself as one of those, in my opinion, pathetic girls who maintain long abusive relationships (physical violence, etc.) just because "I love him, I cannot live without him".

I consider myself a highly independent woman, in my past relationships I could identify attempts for manipulation immediately and escape quickly. In other circumstances I wouldn't bother to end this tormenting relationship, but something tells me that if he opens and starts talking about his emotions, rather than hurting me with his silence instead, things will get better not only for me. When we're talking, I feel extremely happy with him, we're very similar in our interests, we share wonderful intimate life. But this is a point of no return - I will either hate him or leave him for good if something doesn't change in our communication.

Thank you for your articles. Writing this post and reading the comments made me feel a little bit better.

GiannaMoore on August 17, 2014:

Very interesting article. My spouse refuses to talkto me because he says I'm argumentative and constantly point out wht he's not doing. I agree that I need to change my behavior, but I only get angry because I'm unhappy and receive the silent treatment from him. It has been 6 weeks now and the home is beyond dysfunction. I'm trying to move forward and make myself happy in spite of, but it's hard. I'm in a very dark place today as I write. Do you know of any support groups in the Washington DC area dealing with this type of agonizing abuse? Thank you.

Ebonny (author) from UK on June 20, 2014:

Seekingpeace91 - Well done you for taking the brave step to save yourself from the prospect of indefinite control and manipulation. Too many of us are too afraid to make that leap and put it off for far too long.

It can't have been easy but so glad to know that you are on the other side, whole and hearty and in peace. :-)

seekingpeace91 on June 19, 2014:

Excellent article! I, too, went through much of what you described, and eventually left my husband of 14 years. The most freeing thing is the difference I later felt- so many years of being controlled and manipulated left me almost numb, but after a while I could look at it from a healing vantage point and see that I was actually allowing myself to be treated that way. I now care for myself, and I don't see it as selfish. It's like a veil has been lifted, or a burden taken from my shoulders. Thank you for your wise words- I'm sure they will help others to work within or get out of these situations in a healthy way.

Ebonny (author) from UK on June 14, 2014:

Hi Maria

My apologies for the delay in responding. Fear of the silences resulting in walking on eggshells is very common, and very distressing. Breaking the cycle of fear is difficult, but most certainly not impossible. I hope that some of the strategies detailed in the follow up articles linked on this page will help you to overcome the fear and start living life on terms which restore your self-respect. Try the strategies for an extended period of time (things won't change overnight), but if no real improvement see Part 4 and get some outside support if you feel you need it.

Sorry you have been going through all this and my sincere best wishes for the future.

Maria on May 29, 2014:

Have had this from husband on and off throughout marriage- in early years of this happening, I didn't realise there was a problem or that it was emotional abuse- I just try to carry on as "normal" when he does this- silent treatment/ sulking but it is draining and hard work- but I don't want him to know it is affecting me!! Don't know how long u can put up with it cos I feel I am losing my self respect- and walking on eggshells! But then he is "lovely" again and all of this behaviour is quickly and easily forgotten- until the next time!

Ebonny (author) from UK on April 05, 2014:


I can imagine it must be extremely difficult to care for your mother, live away from home, feel isolated and unsupported and then have the silent dynamic going on with your husband all at the same time. At such times it's important you take the time to take care of YOU. Parts 5 and 6 of this series of hubs on how silent treatment can affect both physical and emotional health may be of interest in this regard. Also Parts 1-4 (Coping with silent treatment) is well worth your consideration. Although the changes are not easy to make, especially when you have other issues in addition, it can help you take back some control of self and give a well needed lift. Many thanks for your comments. Best wishes, Ebonny

SBFS on April 04, 2014:

Thank you for a valuable blog. My husband began this activity (i.e., non-communication for more than one day) back in November when I was out of town while my mother was having surgery, all because he disliked a relative of mine who was helping me. Since then, Mother's difficult recovery has unfortunately forced me to be away from our marital home for months at a time (I have no siblings to dump her on, and since he hates my cousin, I'm on my own), and each time he "pulls" this, there is less and less apparent justification, indeed no logic at all this latest episode that is going on right now since Monday (it's Friday now). Needless to say, when past "episodes" have ended, demands -- however polite and respectful -- for an explanation (let alone an apology) are out of the question.

I will definitely be reading the book for more insights and recommendations.

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 25, 2014:

Hi Suzette

Thank you for dropping by with your comment. I agree that open communication is all important. It can be daunting to speak out about uncomfortable subject matters but it is wise to do promptly in the interests of a healthy relationship. Regards, Ebonny.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on March 24, 2014:

Excellent article! I agree with you, the silent treatment is emotional abuse. I have experienced it and it is horrible. Sometimes I think it is the worst type of abuse. Communication is so important and even if I have done something wrong in the eyes of the other person, I prefer the person to tell me about it and discuss it. How else can we change for the better? The discussion does not have to be confrontational, but only by communication can any type of relationship be strengthened. Great article and some great links. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 20, 2014:

Hello Fedup,

Thank you for sharing your experience of how you have evolved to the point where you are planning to leave your relationship. You certainly do seem to have endured more than your fair share of challenges over the course of your 19 year marriage.

I think you and I are of the same mind in that begging and pleading does not work. I hope it comes across that the primary reason for implementing the strategies described in Parts 1-6 of this series of articles on silent treatment is for the benefit, sanity and peace of mind of the person on the receiving end of silent treatment. Also I think it is indeed wise for a person to place a realistic time limit on how long they will stay in a relationship if abuse continues unabated. I would hope the strategies would benefit those who want to change their reaction to being given the silent treatment, and those who are at a stage when they are planning/waiting to leave such a relationship.

Whether a person intends to stay or ultimately leave, the strategies can help them take back control of their emotions. Life really is too short to live this way indefinitely. That said, it is not an easy thing to simply up and leave. As stated, the only person we can change is ourselves. If a partner subsequently changes for the better as a result of such changes, that is a most acceptable bonus - not a guarantee and not the sole motive for making the changes. The strategies can help a person cope if they choose to stay, if they are waiting to go, and indeed when they have left the relationship. We can be as happy as we choose to be in whatever circumstances life throws at us. I wish you well for when you are out of this relationship and when/if you are feeling down in the interim, I do hope you can find some joy and uplift your emotional and physical well being. Again, thanks for raising some interesting points. Regards Ebonny.

fedup on March 19, 2014:

sorry but I disagree with attempting to work around the silent treatment. Someone who gives you the silent treatment doesn't care for you as much as themselves, cause they don't care that it is keeping you two apart, it is keeping problems going and emotionally abandoning the other person. I have experienced 19 years of silent treatment, stonewalling, emotional hijacking and being bulldozed by my husband on a regular. I have tried getting hobbies, going out, even speaking to him, even taking the first steps and even giving him some time to change and he continues. People like that are about control, most controllers remain controllers remain controllers their whole life. So if you want to be on an emotional roller coaster for the rest of your life, with them pushing you away and then pulling you close when they get to lonely or when they are done 'PUNISHING" you for not just going with how they want things to be and you to be, then stay with them. But you will end up like me, with a few times suddenly having heart trouble and deficiencies. I got anxiety disorder from his behavior and it has drained the life out of me. If you insist on attempting to get him or her to participate in the relationship say your spouse and not the enemy, you will find yourself doing most of the work and carrying the both of you. You either be a mule carrying both your problems or you be invisible in your home. It is a dead end street trying to change someone like that. Also I realize a lot of people who give their spouse the silent treatment, is actually having emotional affiars (even with the same gender), they just turn to others and give all the warm kindness to others and dump their bad emotions on you or feel like they got emotional love already so they can easily ignore you. People who have emotional affairs with other people are training themselves to be really good at giving their spouse the silent treatment and neglecting them. One of the things they are going to have to stop, is turning to other people, or becoming obsessed with doing something else to replace the love they aren't getting from you, cause they don't want it from you and not even trying to love you back. People use t.v., drinking, drugs, other people all as a way to easily ignore their spouse and some even will use their work (purposely use work as an excuse). My husband has went as far as spending 3 hours shopping with his mom several times a week. Going to go get his hair done with her instead of with me. Going on camping trips with men and watching show son t.v., he knows I don't like in hopes I won't get into with him and expect him to get close. I went as far as attempting to participate in all of the things so I can break his silent treatment and neglect. He then accused me of wanting to keep an eye on him and even stated that it made no sense for me to come. He tried to menipulate me and act like I had bad intentions. He has even resorted to leaving when I go upstairs so don't ask to go with him or ask him why he didn't invite me. See, if your spouse doesn't want to speak to you, most likely they don't even want to be around you and if you insist, they will find others ways to keep themselves distant from you, so you get the point. It is a waste of your energy trying to find ways to work around their detachment. Most times this occurs while the other spouse is down on their luck or sick or dependent on them. They are taking advantage of the facts you are dependent on them. Most of the time it is men doing it to women, cause they are often the bread win and think they can (she will not leave them, she will just except it). They play this out in their minds. It comes down to you either leaving the relationships or allowing them so suck you of dry of all life and spirit. But know that yoru spouse will not portray his silent treatment around others, he will treat you like that when others ain't around mostly and if he does it while others around, he simply keeps himself busy in conversations or pretend to be to busy entertaining guess. Again, they will find a way to keep their ability to give you the silent treatment, to keep control. Following them begging and pleading for them to work things out and keep to their word to change, will only resort in them accusing you of harassing them or trying to argue. They will use any menipulative thing to emotional high jack you if you insist on demanding them to stop giving you the silent treatment or attempt to break it. I've learned you just got to go or work on getting yourself out the relationship. You waste many years attempting to get them to respect and love you the same by not stonewalling you or giving you the silent treatment which also means they neglect you. leave before you are 19 years into like I am, trying to leave with a 13 year old who also gets treated like that by her father.

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 14, 2014:

Hello Darrell

I appreciate your comment and do hope you will find a way forward. Your new self awareness should help with this.

Darrell on March 12, 2014:

It's easy to fall pray to this which I have until I read this article. I have been a victim of this for so long and I shared with a friend and she forwarded this article to me. This article opened my eyes. I was always asking forgiveness and trying to buy things to calm the waters and the more I did it and beg and pleaded it got worse. I felt very down emotionally because of my love for her. Thank you so very much for having this article.

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 10, 2014:

Hello Kay

Thank you for your comment. The point you raise relates somewhat to the previous comment from BlueMoon and my response. I believe that “tit for tat” (for want of an alternative description) silent treatment, as opposed to a time limited cooling off period, does not help a relationship going forward. As outlined in some of my articles in this silent treatment series, two wrongs do not make a right. To my understanding of the scenario you mention, I would say that the original “wrong” needs to be addressed directly and resolved rather than resorting to silence, although this is not necessarily easy to do depending on all the circumstances.

Kay on March 10, 2014:

How about acknowledging the person on the end of the silent treatment might be the real abuser and the person who has withdrawn is the abused party who merely wishes to preserve themselves and their sanity from their abuser?

Ebonny (author) from UK on February 14, 2014:

Hi BlueMoon2468

I would have to say yes it is the silent treatment. I hear that you feel you have good reason to be upset. However, you have to ask yourself if giving the silent treatment is going to help you overcome the difficulty you are facing in the marriage.

Whilst you may be protecting him from your hostile feelings, you may well be bringing about feelings in him which are just as harmful as your hostility. I hope you will be able to decide on when you will start communicating again (sooner rather than later), and let him know asap. If at the end of that time period you absolutely need a LITTLE more time, let him know and stick to it (see Part 4 in the series for more on this.) As your issue is a BIG one, it needs airing. Silently sweeping stuff under the carpet will not make issues disappear. Maybe look into couple counselling with a third party who can help you both explore this big issue and find a way forward/both know where you stand.

It’s never an easy when you feel you cannot speak to or even look at your spouse, but long periods of silent treatment will only make things worse in the long run. Many thanks for sharing.

BlueMoon2468 on February 13, 2014:

I am sort of controlling and do get angry easily, but I never thought of myself as an emotional abuser. My husband and I have been married for over a decade and have two really well-adjusted, extremely bright children. Six months ago I found out he was hiding something BIG from me for years. I tried to accept this and be understanding. Then, a few days ago, I caught him in a lie and flew off the handle. Since then, I can't bring myself to speak to or even look at him because of the negative feelings he brings out of me. Is this the silent treatment? Or am I protecting him from my hostile feelings? I'm not sure.

Ebonny (author) from UK on January 29, 2014:

Hi Suzanne

I am sure there will be MANY reading your post nodding their heads in sad familiarity with the scenarios you describe.

I thank you for sharing your situation and I feel for you in what you are living through. I also appreciate the feedback on the advice in the articles as I do believe they can help people take better care of their emotional and physical health to help see them through. Sincere best wishes to you and yours. Ebonny

Suzanne on January 28, 2014:

Thank you for such a great insight into this problem, this is one of the best articles I've read that explains things and helps me not feel so alone.

I have been married for 14 years with two gorgeous sons (10 & 7). I love my husband but he refuses to deal with any of the relationship issues that arise (most could be overcome so easily with some understanding from each other - I'm not trying to make him wrong, just trying to be heard...even if we agree to disagree, that's fine), he gets incredibly defensive, minimises my feelings, tells me I'm being too sensitive, puts me down, withholds intimacy for long periods, tells me I'm ungrateful, uses anger & yelling to control the situation (can be quite a bully), and then gives me silent treatment (while acting happy to everyone else).

He goes to great lengths to maintain a perfect 'husband' image to his family and friends....I often despair that if we split nobody would ever believe me about things he has said and done. Everyone always tells me how lovely he is...and yes he can be...that's the man I fell in,love with. He can be so beautiful which makes this very confusing for me. But, he often puts me down over little driving, what I buy (it's always wrong and of course way too much money), my work/business I'm trying to create, says I'm way too soft with the kids, if something goes wrong with an electrical item in the house, it's automatically something I've done wrong, etc. I have to "fight" big time for what I want, for example, we sold our last house with the agreement that we'd take the kids to the US on a holiday once the house sold....and then he retracted and said he didn't say it. I was incredulous! This is a common pattern, he goes back in his word. I worked and fought hard for us to still go and eventually he agreed - we had the most amazing family holiday...and he now brags about it to all his friends.

I have definitely become stronger over the years and I think he realises I would not tolerate some of the behaviours that he displayed in the early years of our marriage. However he will never, ever acknowledge my feelings and it's leaving me bereft, frustrated and resentful. He rarely apologises and in the past, in the interests of keeping my family together and a genuine love for him, I've written letters (which he never acknowledges), tried relentlessly to talk and explain my feelings to him, arranged dinner dates, it's always me that does the "mending" .....we eventually get back to some kind of equilibrium and life goes on but the problem is never solved and I rarely feel heard...

Over the years I have gone to counselling, always looked at my own contributions and often blamed myself for our problems, tied to change my approach - I think I've used every self help suggestion on communication! I've had two counsellors tell me I try too hard so the advice in your articles are a great reinforcement to try a different approach. My self esteem was almost non existent a couple of years ago but I am gradually clawing my way back and learning that what I'm doing is not working so trying new ways and other ways of finding happiness in my life. I tend to isolate myself when going through these episodes as feel embarrassed and don't want to complain to friends, many of whom think we have the perfect life. I have often thought about leaving however this really is not what I want. There are so many good things about my husband too....but I have felt helpless and now that I'm in a place of "put up or shut up"...I can't keep complaining and get that no matter what I do, I can't change him unless he wants to change. He has come to counselling in he past a few times (always at my request), and has tried to charm the pants off them (which has sometimes worked, he is very good looking!), but refuses to go again....said that they have never helped us, it's a waste of money.

I'm currently in the middle of a "quiet" treatment from him - he talks to me about the kids and day to day things but has been out with his buddies a couple of times, fallen asleep without saying goodnight, no phone calls, generally ignoring me, etc. This resulted from when I called him out on a few derogatory comments he made...of course I'm over-reacting, hormonal (he loves using this one) and completely wrong. He is going away for work for a week from tomorrow and knows this "ignoring" treatment will be getting to me. I'm going to great lengths to not behave as I normally would and it is going against the grain for me but I can already see he benefits. He is holding steady, pretending everything is fine even though he knows he is doing things that will upset the past I would have reacted and then he will act surprised as if he's done nothing...after reading your articles I can see that i was rewarding him and giving him exactly what he wanted.

A good example was last night - he arranged a catch up with two of his friends for a few drinks - I asked if he could postpone to next week as he was going away and would be good for the kids and I to spend time with him - he refused. So, instead of getting upset (even though it hurt), I arranged to take the kids out for dinner as an end of school holidays treat. He rang at 6pm and asked if I'd change it to tonight, which in the past I would have, but I politely said no, we were ready to go mad we're all looking forward to it. I told him we would love to have him join us but that seemed to fall on deaf ears. When he got home around midnight, he was very distant and pissed with me. But I kept my cool, said we had a great night (which we did) and that we missed him being there. The irony is, we are getting a new car today, and he will use that as an argument that I'm ungrateful and once again everyone will think he's amazing because he's bought me a new car.

My apologies for such a long post, I think this has been therapy for me. Many thanks again, it's so lovely to talk to someone about this, I can t tell you what a relief it is. I probably should also add that my husband drinks a lot which I believe contributes to his irritability and has some major issues with his business partner causing him lots of unhappiness at work and a strained financial situation. I try to be sensitive to this as I know it's stressful but at the same time I'm not going to be treated poorly because of it. Best wishes xx

Ebonny (author) from UK on January 17, 2014:

Hello Mother of 2

I am so very sorry to hear of the agony you are enduring. This is no doubt an extremely stressful time for YOU, and it may soon start to take a toll on your health if it has not done so already. I think you could do with some outside support (e.g. a local counsellor) and it’s important you take steps to reduce stress and build yourself up with some Positive Thinking strategies to help you manage your situation and best care for yourself/your children. Could you pl email me and I will respond further. To do this - Click on “Ebonny” (near top right of page) which will take you to my profile page. Then click on “fan mail”, (right side of page). Then click “Send Ebonny an email” in centre of page and write me. Take good care.

Mother of 2 on January 16, 2014:

Hi Ebonny,

I've been married 10 years now and have two beautiful daughers - one 7 and the other 1. Things were going great for us till two years back, and we were happily married with not a care in the world. However, things took an ugly turn when my father spoke to my husband on some investment issues and on how all his money (my father's) had been used (by my husband). My husband's ego was badly hurt and he swore never to see my folks again.

Efforts to cool him down and rationalise things went in vain. Things got worse when he entered into a 'business'' relationship with one of my childhood friends - a divorcee. Soon he started growing apart from me (I was pregnant with my second child that time), refused to talk to me, threatened to leave me and stated he was ''not answerable'' to my questions. I thought things would change after the child was born, but they got worse. A few days after delivery, I found a love letter in his office bag. I confronted him but he shrugged it off casually, saying that it meant nothing. However, the sudden change in his behaviour and then the love letter - it just connected. I was certain he was having an extra marital affair.

1 year has passed since this incident but he shows no remorse. He doesn't talk to me and refuses to discuss the problem. I don't know his whereabouts. Often, there's pin-drop silence in the house when the kids are away or sleeping. I also discovered that he had indeed used all the money to set up his business or invested the same in properties (thankfully which are co-owned by both of us). I trusted him and I still feel if he wanted to take advantage, he would have not put my name anywhere.

I have now decided to split my finances, but he doesn't cooperate. He has disconnected himself from my parents and friends, doesn't take our calls nor replies to smses. What surprises me the most is his sudden change in behaviour - I fondly remember him as a very caring and a loving person who has now become aggressive, non-cooperative, and just remains silent.

The only positive point is that he is really attached to the kids and visa-versa. If I move out, I have to support myself, but when Im with him, at least the kids would be taken care of.

Im tired of his silent treatment (it's almost 1.5 years now). He doesn't contribute financially nor agree for a financial split.

I don't know what to do. I still love him and my kids need him. Is he under severe stress? So much so that the man doesn't talk (only to me - he is normal with everyone else) and refuses to discuss anything. How long can I take this?

Please help.

Ebonny (author) from UK on September 30, 2013:

Hi Elain

Sorry you are going through this. The fact is you cannot force him to contact you or to answer your calls. So, may I suggest you think about not contacting him for, say for an entire week, and then send a SHORT text to let him know you are fine and quite content. Maybe tell him how much you enjoyed the film you went to see the other evening and/or how much you love your new exercise class or other passtime.

However, make sure that over the next week you actually push yourself to do stuff to keep yourself busy and entertained for real. Don't just bluff. Actually do things for yourself that you enjoy and take care of your own emotional state of mind, rather than sit around and hope for him to call.

Please see the other articles for more on this, but generally think about what you can do differently and positively to uplift yourself and stop yourself getting overwhelmed with his unreasonable behaviour.

Maybe even attach a photo of yourself happily participating in your new hobby. Don't ask for or expect a response. Just send it and leave it at that. Thereafter, keep on working on you and see how things pan out.

I do appreciate this is easier said than done but hope you will consider it as an alternative to whatever you have done in the past if that hasn't worked out for you.

Elain on September 28, 2013:

Hi, this is eye opening to me, my husband has been away from home for 2 months now on business, everything has been fine, but a week ago I got upset with him and directly told him so (i have to mention ir wasn't a huge deal), but the response i got was the silent treatment. It's been a week now and i've tried contact with him 3 times, letrina him now this shouldn't happen and how it makes me feel but he only ignores me and i get no response and obviously he 's not reaching out for me. I don't real ley know what to do, just let him cut off any contact? I'm not sure how much time i can bare this...

Ebonny (author) from UK on September 12, 2013:

Hi Confused Romeo

If your girlfriend insists on using silence despite what you say to her, it's time to show her that silence doesn't work. Do try the strategies suggested in Parts 1-4 of this series of articles on silent treatment. If things are going to change it won't happen overnight but over a period of time. Re-assesss the situation down the line and let her know if/when you reach the point when it is a dealbreaker for you. I think that often the only reason people habitually give others the silent treatment is because they are allowed to get away with it!

confused romeo on August 31, 2013:

Hi everyone, I was in a loving relationship with my gf till she started saying that silence is the best communication but I deject.... and ive been goin back and forth arguing with her about and yes I realised ive been fueling her habit for that and ive been trying 2 convince her that verbal communication is always the best communication, help! what do I do??!

Inabattle on August 05, 2013:

Thank you so much, Ebony, for your reply.

Ebonny (author) from UK on August 05, 2013:

Hello Inabattle

I agree with you - it would be so much better to have a heated discussion/argument, get everything out in the open, clear the air, resolve things or agree to differ, rather than resort to silence and leave an issue to fester and grow out of all proportion.

Sigh... It is so sad that your family life is being shattered by silent treatment from your husband and daughter. If/when you decide you want to do something about it please consider/employ the strategies described in the other articles on silent treatment in this series. It is possible for both yourself and your older daughter to change your response to being given the silent treatment and to soar above this form of emotional abuse.

Children/teenagers (and adults) will experiment with a variety of “tactics” and will likely continue with the tactics which people allow them to get away with. I think it’s important for you to let your silent daughter now learn (from your own changed reactions to her silent treatment) that this tactic will no longer allow her to control your emotions. At that point, she may well decide to stop the silence. Of course there is no guarantee she will stop but in employing the strategies I believe you would feel so much better within yourself.

In addition, it’s important you seek help to deal with the verbal abuse with a view to not letting it adversely affect your self esteem etc.

Best regards, Ebonny.

Inabattle on August 04, 2013:

I have lived with a pattern of silent treatments ever since I married 20 years ago. My husband, always makes sure that his silent treatments be accompanied from time to time with name-calling, such as stupid, nasty... However he never can fully tell what I have done wrong. A few years ago my teenage daughter started to give the silent treatment to her older sister for some little disagreement that happened between them. She hasn't spoken to her since. Then in December because I was upset with her for staying out late without letting anyone know where she was, she no longer speaks to me either. Is this normal behavior for a teenager? She does not speak to none of us. Meanwhile, my husband hasn't spoken to me for more than a year now. The situation in the house is terrible. I wonder if it would not have been better to have arguments, and then to get reconciled, rather than this enormously long silence from both of them.

Ebonny (author) from UK on July 29, 2013:

Many thanks for your feedback Elisha.

elisha on July 28, 2013:

thank you, your articles help a lot :)

Ebonny (author) from UK on June 22, 2013:

For the attention of Jason - Dale

Firstly I must ask you to please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your communication.

In general, my feeling is that given your background and the daunting aspects of the relationship you described, I believe some counselling may be in order to help you to further develop your self esteem and confidence and understanding.

Please see your e-mail for my further thoughts but meanwhile many thanks for your response to this article, and I wish you well for the future.. Ebonny.

Ebonny (author) from UK on May 05, 2013:

Hi Dora - If you feel you owed him a genuine apology and gave it to him and plan to take steps not to repeat the behaviour then that's fine but him stopping playing with your son to get at you is just plain wrong!

Maybe you can try and give your son extra attention to compensate a little but at the same time try some of the strategies in the other silent treatment articles to give yourself a boost. You'll be showing your husband that he is not the be all and end all of your world.

Dora on May 03, 2013:

Hi, my husb has bn giving me d silent treatment for 5days now. I saw his paired bluetooth devices n it was girls n few guys dat I dnt knw. I asked him what he sent to dem n he said he sent dem our 4month old son's pic n I jst lost it. I told him not to do dat nonsense again and since den he's bn distant and quiet. He doesn't eat at home, stays out late n doesn't even play wit our son etc. I have apologised but he refused to talk to me. I'm so drained but I've decided to let him be

Ebonny (author) from UK on April 27, 2013:

For the attention of - aboutmyscars

Thank you for sharing how you went from one abusive relationship to another. I am sorry to hear of the emotional and verbal abuse and threats of violence.

I think if it were me, I wouldn’t worry about going back for my stuff if it causes such turmoil and dread. Chalk it down to experience and look to the future instead.

I think you can congratulate yourself that you did not put up with the second abuser for an extended period which shows that you learned from your past. Such wisdom and respect for yourself will see you through to making better choices, and I do wish you well for the future.

Best wishes Ebonny.

Ebonny (author) from UK on April 16, 2013:

Hi IndigoLamprey

Unfortunately alot of people feel it's okay to do this! Many thanks for your comment and hopefully if it happens again you can nip it in the bud. All the best. Ebonny

IndigoLamprey on April 15, 2013:

Wow, this was certainly eye opening. After going through this, I realized that the vast majority of girlfriends I've had have truly been abusers. Thank you !

Ebonny (author) from UK on April 07, 2013:

Hi Mrs Abdalla

I do feel for you as being married to an arrogant, selfish and uncaring person must be so soul destroying. He does not sound like a candidate for marriage counselling but perhaps you might consider some counselling yourself so that you can get support with critically assessing your situation and work out what you want for the future and how to uplift yourself generally. If not counselling, then maybe consider a support group of some kind. With best wishes, Ebonny.

Mrs Abdalla on April 06, 2013:

My husband is stubben, he thinks always right he doesn't do any mistakes, he thinks he is perfect , never say thank you to me, never take me out unless with my kids, he doesn't introduced me to his friends or mates and if they talk about my excellent food never tell me, I can't pleased him whatsoever $6 even if I did what he wants, feel jealous from me, he doesn't want any one to enter our house from my side e.g my friends my family, he doesn't buy any thing to me by himself if he likes it, he doesn't want me to go with him to do shopping, he likes to do everything by himself, we are not sharing anything about family affairs, when he is angry with me automatically be angry with my kids and do silly things to them to make me angry or sad, he can't deal friendly with his kids, he doesn't like to go out, he is a homely person.

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 29, 2013:

Hi Kathy - I'm glad you coming round to the idea of stopping the texts. Disrespectful people don't deserve our time.

kathy on March 28, 2013:

Thanks so much Ebonny,

I probably text him normally about 3 times a day. The way this happened was, on Saturday he told me he was having some dramas. Wouldn't tell me what it was.

So i just sent texts telling him i was here if he needed an ear. Then on Monday i asked him if he was ok (remembering i have no idea what problem he has right now) he replied "Yes" and then i said it would be great if someone would ask me if i was ok, and then he didn't reply and that was the last of it. (this comment might have been what triggered it)

I didn't take any notice and was just texting him about this and that, (just stuff going on, nothing unusual ) and then after a while by about Wednesday i realised he was doing the silent treatment on me. There was nothing in my texts that was offensive, it was all about other stuff, and yeah so after a while i realised he wasn't texting back.

Yesterday i started to think well i don't know what's happened to him, he said he was having dramas, so i told him i was worried. Still nothing.

I am not going to text any more at all. He has a very controlling personality and has tried to control me before, so i suspect now this might be another episode. I don't know, but i think texting him is just feeding it. Like you say, its also a courtesy issue, and i think his behaviour is really rude.

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 28, 2013:

Hi Kathy

I think I can appreciate just how frustrating and crazy making this behaviour is and I’m sure the distance must make it even more testing for you than usual. But you know you have done nothing to deserve this treatment and as it is a pattern with him I hope you will persist in trying to break the cycle.

I’m not sure how often you text him but if I were in your shoes I would cut down the frequency dramatically e.g. if I would normally text every day I would maybe just text every third day and certainly not more than one text on the days when I do text. I think your happy breezy texts are a good idea. I would try to convey that I was VERY busy getting on with my life but at the same time keep the texts pretty short in length. At this point I would stop asking what’s going on and now not give any indication in my texts that I was expecting or even hoping for a response from him or that I was sorry not to have heard from him beforehand. And as time goes on I would be thinking about leaving longer and longer intervals between texts. Hmm... I might even stop texting altogether since he doesn't have the common courtesy to acknowledge them.

Last but certainly not least, I think it's really important that you do actually make efforts to genuinely uplift yourself and take ownership of your own emotional state and happiness. Easier said than done, but it becomes less difficult as time goes by and is so worth it.

Best wishes, Ebonny

kathy on March 27, 2013:

thanks so much for this article. I am currently on the third day of silent treatment being dished out by my lover/friend with benefits. We have been "friends" for more than 5 years and at the moment we are communicating by text as he is away working for a month or 2. Anyway he told me is is having some dramas, and refused to tell me what they were, just that i didn't need to know. I have asked if he is ok, and he says he is, but now whenever i text i get no reply. Doesn't matter what i say, he just wont reply.

Whenever he has a problem about anything in his life he freezes up on me and refuses to communicate as though the "thing" is my fault. I basically get stonewalled, even though the problem might have NOTHING to do with me. Its just exhausting! I always feel like i am being punished. Sometimes i just say, ok i don't know what i have done wrong but whatever it is i apologise, and then sometimes he will start communicating with me again. It's a complete mind bend!. This time i don't know why he is silent treatmenting me, sure he has some problem going on but is that any reason to stonewall someone who has nothing to do with it. I honestly don't know what to do. I have tried both tactics, sending breezy happy texts and also "what's goinng on?" texts and neither get a response. As though its my fault.

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 18, 2013:

Hello Delighted

I try to see “falls” as an opportunity to learn so that should I have another blip in the future (we are only human after all) I can recover more quickly. This also helps with limiting the number of future blips.

There’s a phrase that goes something like it’s not how you fall, what’s important is that you get back up. It’s good to know that you are getting right back on track after a blip, that you are aware you actually have a choice, that you are indeed choosing your own emotional state (electing to be positive) and are conscious that there is no point in allowing his choices to drag you down.

Many thanks for dropping by again. Stay Strong. Ebonny.

delighted on March 17, 2013:

Having worked through the various strategies this series offers, I was successful in removing myself emotionally from the intended effects of the silent treatment at home. This quite confused my husband who wondered how I could walk around happy and singing... It is SUCH a huge relief to let them act as they do, and let it 'run off your back' so to speak as you turn your focus to making your life positive, and not trying to change them. Only they can choose differently. I am back to gaining this perspective again having 'fallen' this week into trying to explain how his deep anger is hurtful. Explaining doesn't help. So today, I am back to letting him be angry, at me, at himself, at life, at others. The blaming includes lots of people when things don't work out the way he plans / expects. Today is Sunday... and it is going to be a great day for me. And will probably not be for him as he chooses to stew on things. It is still sad that I can't count on him to handle upsets in a manner that resolves them quickly. He chooses to stew on them for days... I have to realize that he CHOOSES. He could choose differently but he doesn't see that as an option. His anger is too ingrained. This week, I have given his silent anger too much power over my own emotional state, and I CHOOSE not to do that anymore. So today will be a good day! Thank you for 'listening'.

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 17, 2013:

Hi ketchup

I can appreciate it must be very difficult to fathom why your friend has turned his back on you so abruptly, particularly as it seems he was a very keen participant in the friendship. I suspect there are other reasons for his about turn but if he will not open up, or even talk to you, for your own wellbeing, you will have to accept that you will never have clarity over this and move on.

If I were in your situation I would now STOP saying hello and/or trying to make eye contact. I would not particularly go out of my way to avoid him at work or hide myself away. In line with the strategies I recommend in Parts 1 – 4 of coping with silent treatment, I would try not to be seen to be hurt, anxious, puzzled. I suggest you practise at home to develop a neutral, pleasant facial expression and demeanour and then whenever you see him put that face on, look straight ahead and go about your business. And if indeed you do have a tendency to be somewhat OTT, you can explore this with your counsellor with a view to overcoming same.

It may be that your ex-friend feels in control/superior when he can see that you are negatively affected by his ignoring you. On the other hand, bearing in mind that he has never been like this in the past, it may be that something/someone else has influenced him to end his friendship with you. In either case, you cannot make him change his mind and, as hard as it is, for the sake of your mental and physical health, do work on accepting that things have changed and focus on other things in your life to make and keep you feeling upbeat and positive. Over time you will miss him less and less. If you have not already done so, see Parts 6 of this series of articles re emotional stress and physical health. Be strong - Ebonny

ketchup on March 15, 2013:

I had a great friend at work. We both enjoy running and sometimes trained together and last year ran a marathon. He used to fetch me for lunch every day and would talk about everything. I gave him lifts to airport when he and his wife went away, I helped him move house and he only came my birthday party with his wife last summer. He's given me lots of advice and he and his wife have been great with my son in helping him with regard to his university applications. However, he has recently said that I didn't give him enough space and that he can't be friends with me anymore. Since then he has given me the silent treatment. I have apologised to him as I can be OTT but although he says he accepts my apology he won't even acknowledge me when I say hello in the corridor at work. I'm devastated in view of the good times we've had but I'm also at the end of my tether with this silent treatment. I feel like exploding and have seen my GP who has prescribed medication and I am also to have counselling. He's never been like this before and I've always looked up to him as he's seemed to be a decent guy with little emotion unlike me. Do you have any advice as I would have him back as a friend in a flash?

Ebonny (author) from UK on March 11, 2013:

Hello Linda

Sorry to know of what you are currently enduring. If you agree with me that crying and presenting upset to your partner is of little or no effect in regards to halting the cycles of silences, but want to give the relationship one last try, then I hope you will try the strategies detailed in the other articles in this series.

Remember, if you continue on the same path as before, you will end up at the same place as before – the place where your partner wants you to end up – under his control. I am not saying that you are unjustified to feel upset and cry at this immature treatment on the part of your partner, as many of us have been there, but I do hope that you can gather strength to try another path and take back ownership for your own emotional state. No one can control you unless you let them. Best wishes, Ebonny.

Linda on March 10, 2013:

I've been ignored now I week , with a very passive aggressive man who has a lot of issues ... We've gotton back together for last 3 months but constant fighting from his controlling ways .. One night in Thailand he went mad as he thought I was over dressed ( I dress very well ) and he felt underdressed as I hadn't told him to bring a blazer ... He was so angry all night while I cried ... How to use my knife and fork when I eat .... So controlling I'm 40 years old not a child ... Another fight now and he's comp gone off rader ... He never feels his wrong re anything and its all my fault ... I prob should forget him i love him so much when he's been lovely

Ebonny (author) from UK on February 21, 2013:

Hello Scorpioman

Having taken your time to consider and reflect you are positioned to make the right decision about this relationship - and wiser for future relationships. Thank you for taking time to comment. Best wishes. Ebonny

Joel Gonzaga Jr. from Bacolod City, Philippines on February 19, 2013:

I've experienced this with my ex. And it's very very depressing. I still tried to hold on as long as I could. But now, I realized that I have to let go after months of thinking and analyzing. I realized that if I continued to hold on, I'm gonna end up as a loser. So now, I have let go of my feelings. I just instilled to my mind that she's already happy with her life now and I will do the same with mine.

Ebonny (author) from UK on February 17, 2013:

Thank you for your comment Landerson11. I am glad to know you found this article of interest and that it has given you some insight about dealing with such undermining and unhelpful behaviour. Please don't feel silly for your past actions in dealing with the silent treatment for, as adults, we should not have to be subject to such 'games' and so are not automatically armed against it. Do remain strong and please accept my best wishes for the future. Ebonny.

landerson11 on February 16, 2013:


Your article was very educational. Three months ago I started dating a man and we hit it off right away. I fell in love with him. He went into deep depression during the holidays and suddenly stopped communicating with me. A trip we were scheduled to take together with his friends ended up being just me. Although his friends were wonderful and I learned he has detached from them as well, I was devastated. It's been 6 weeks with barely a communication. I wish I'd read your article earlier. I apologized, for what, I do not know. I don't know what made him shut down. I reached out via text and email. More than once. One of the emails I sent resulted in a response in which he stated he missed me. He sent a couple texts which seem to try to reaffirm how he feels. He has communicated severe depression. I want to help him but cannot. The silence in general continues. On the one hand I want it to work out and on the other hand I question why. The silent treatment is cruel and destructive. It has caught me off guard. With your information I know now to just keep moving forward and stay busy. No more trying to contact him. I feel silly for trying so hard. It has made me feel self-conscious, foolish and weak. It is such a disappointment to me to fall in love only to end up being snubbed. The silent treatment is so very painful.

Ebonny (author) from UK on February 06, 2013:

Hello Gail - I hadn't thought of it that way but yes, its extremely cutting when a person you love shows you nothing but indifference and all you want is TLC. Many thanks for your comment, and vote.

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on February 05, 2013:

Ebonny, you make some excellent points in this hub. Someone once told me hate isn't the opposite of love, indifference is. I know my NPD mother used the silent treatment for manipulation and punishment. It is petty, but then an NPD's behavior is often compared to that of a six year old. Voted up and useful.

Ebonny (author) from UK on January 07, 2013:

Hi Au Fait - I appreciate your encouragement re both the hubs and the drawings, and plan to do more of both! Meanwhile, many thanks for dropping by.

C E Clark from North Texas on January 05, 2013:

I don't believe I've suffered this treatment from anyone who mattered. I'm the sort of person who tends to get under people's skin without even trying and then all they want to do is vent! ;)

Seriously, I think your hubs on this subject are very good and helpful to people who find themselves in the predicament and I'm sure they're grateful for your help.

Voted up, useful, and interesting. I just want to add that I think your drawings are awesome!

Ebonny (author) from UK on December 13, 2012:

Hello MsDora - You are spot on with your comment about physical illness and many thanks for drawing this to attention. Years ago I was somewhat sceptical when people said anxiety can lead to ill health but I know differently now since my most stressful/anxiety ridden year coincided with several health issues, one of which was indeed potentially life threatening - more than a coincidence I would say!


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 12, 2012:

Thanks for these lessons on this particular form of abuse. I understand the negative consequences so much more, for example leading to resentment. Resentment in relationships also lead to physical illness, so we're talking something major. Thanks again for bringing this topic to the forefront.

Ebonny (author) from UK on October 26, 2012:

Hello again Delighted and thanks so much for the update and feedback.

It sounds as if you have worked very hard to achieve an increased level of peace of mind for yourself as you go about your day to day life and, for that alone, you deserve a huge pat on the back. I am SO glad to know that you are no longer submitting to horrendously long periods of silent treatment emotional abuse.

Making life changing decisions is never easy but with your increasingly positive mindset I feel sure you are well placed to move on and methodically overcome any challenges along the way to having a bright future. The phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” springs to mind.

Thanks again and take good care, Ebonny

delighted from Tucson, AZ on October 25, 2012:

Great article... helped me immensely. After 8 months of not being spoken to last year, and some seemingly useful counselling sessions late last year, and some 'shorter episodes' this year, here we are again. I have not been spoken to now since mid August, and have been living in an extra bedroom for the past 2 change seen. I have used information in these articles to let my husband 'be', and not interact w/ him anymore, and have less overall anxiety / hurt as I go about my day to day. New plan, unfortunately, is to move out after 9 years of marriage. Living in a silent, hostile environment = living alone in all ways except there is a 'person' living at the other end of the house, and of course, there are still 2 incomes and a roof over my head. Moving out means I will have to support myself, which can be done. This is NOT what I intended, or ever thought would happen, but I can't change someone who chooses to be 'right' in his smoldering anger, and deliberately wakes up every morning with the same decision to disregard that I am here. So sorry to see that my husband has not learned grace, compromise, courtesy, forgiveness and how to enjoy life, possibly because he was brought up in an environment of condemnation, shame and blaming. So sad that he perpetuates that which he probably did not like growing up. I wish I could have helped him see a better way - but alas, his blaming response and anger are too ingrained, and everyday he is choosing that over working toward having a good marital relationship. I know he thinks he is right... and I can't change that.

Ebonny (author) from UK on October 24, 2012:

Hi 3cardmonte - glad to know you found this of interest although sorry to know you have been treated this way. I appreciate the comment.

3cardmonte on October 24, 2012:

excellent hub. I have been on the receiving end of emotional manipulation many times and it's a nasty and unfair way of treating people.

Ebonny (author) from UK on September 23, 2012:

Hello noname226

Being a child on the receiving end of the silent treatment from a parent is very difficult as the parent is in a position of control and authority. I believe this dynamic can persist even when the child grows reaches adulthood and can affect the adult child’s choice of partner etc.

May I suggest that you read up on controlling parents to gain more clarity? You might also find that many of the strategies described in the "How to cope with Silent Treatment Emotional Abuse in Relationships/marriage" articles (see below) can be applied in your situation. Whilst there is no magic formula for you and your brother to make your father change the way he behaves, you can most certainly change the way you yourself respond to being given the silent treatment. Basically, stop being seen to be negatively affected by silent treatment and focus on taking responsibility for your own happiness.

Positive thinking, and correct use of affirmation, can also help you deal the silent treatment and assist with building self esteem and confidence, so I would recommend you look into that also.

My best wishes to you and thank you for sharing and commenting.

noname226 on September 22, 2012:

I'm 20 and since I was a young girl my father has been giving my brother and I the silent treatment whenever he is in a bad mood. I can relate to everything said above, it damages ones self worth. my mother gets angry with me for having no self confidence and I often wonder if this could be why. how can I stop the silent treatment, it hurts...

Ebonny (author) from UK on September 03, 2012:

Hi Delighted

It's easier said than done, but even if a relationship breaks down, we can all learn something useful to take forward into a more positive future. However, I do hope things do not get to the make or break stage for you but if they do at least you will know that you did try your very best to change things - and that's all anyone can ever do or expect.

Thanks so much for your comments and please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

delighted from Tucson, AZ on August 30, 2012:

I also had NO idea that adults would engage is such distructive behaviour toward the one they have chosen to marry / love. Thus, I had no idea what red flags to look out for, and find myself married to someone who does this repeatedly. I contnue to seek a victory over this in hopes the marriage can be saved, and this series has been very helpful. Of course, should my spouse choose not to make any changes at all, then a different decision may be made in the future. Truly, I would hate to walk away without truly trying to diffuse this pattern -as the years already 'endured' would then truly be 'wasted' ones.

Ebonny (author) from UK on August 06, 2012:

I'm glad you found it of interest - cheers Giselle

Giselle Maine on August 06, 2012:

This was an eye-opening article, as I (naively) did not realize that any grown-up people actually do this Silent Treatment, which as you say must be very hurtful. It certainly seems an unproductive way of dealing with issues. Thank you for raising awareness of this relationship issue.

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