Silent treatment abuse is real and can be very damaging. Read on to learn what happens when silent treatment becomes an abuse.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of silent treatment? If so, you will know how damaging and upsetting it can be. For people that prefer to discuss a problem and get it out in the open, it can be agonising to receive silent treatment.

But why do people use it and can you really call it abuse?

Types of personalities to use silent treatment

Anyone with narcissistic traits is particularly susceptible to using silent treatment. This is for several reasons:

  • It gives the abuser control over the victim;
  • It silences the victim’s voice;
  • It puts the victim’s life on hold while the abuser decides when the silent treatment should end;
  • The victim is walking on egg-shells during the silent treatment period.

Typically, those who are at the receiving end of silent treatment will try nonstop to get to the bottom of why the silent treatment has been levelled at them. They will try anything to get the silence to stop, from being overly nice to the abuser, to enlisting the help from friends of the abuser.

What the person delivering the silent treatment is essentially saying to their victim is that they are insignificant, not worthy of their attention, they literally do not exist in the eyes of the abuser.

Ways in which silent treatment abuse is so damaging

It might sound trivial to insist that silent treatment is abusive behaviour towards a person, but there are several ways in which it damages someone.

Being ignored causes stress and anxiety

Not being spoken to by a significant other is distressing and can cause a range overwhelming emotions that include depression, stress, worry, frustration and even anger. Dismissing someone’s right to a conversation is demeaning and can leave the victim with a sense of worthlessness and devalue them.

It can produce actual serious physical side-effects

In our brains, there is an area known as the anterior cingulate cortex, which is responsible for processing different levels of pain. It is activated when a person is receiving silent treatment and the brain processes this as actual pain in the body.

It can make you change your behaviour

People who are receiving silent treatment often have been worn down over the years by the abuser and this leads to them changing their behaviour in order to avoid being ignored. The problem, however, is not with the victim, and typically, there is nothing they can do as the abuser is unreasonable when doling out the silent treatment.

It can ruin relationships in the long run

A victim of the silent treatment abuse will usually only put up with being ignored for a certain amount of time. If they are lucky to have good friends around them that they can talk to and see that this behaviour is unreasonable, then they will have a good chance of getting out of the relationship.

What to do if you are subject to silent treatment abuse

Silent treatment abuse is a passive aggressive method of gaining control and having your own way. Realise that you are worthy of a conversation, you do not have to put up with childish behaviour and if the abuser does not start communicating, then walk away.



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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Adrian Howley

    Regarding silent treatment abuse, what if the abuser is your own adult child? Mine hasn’t spoken to me or seen me in eight years. What does one do about that?

    1. Peggy Ballinger

      Walk away! That is what I have to do for my own mental and now physical health! My adult daughters have given me the silent treatment, due to me finding out they had been deceitful right after my husband, and their father passed away suddenly. The worst part they cannot apologize, instead, they have turned the situation around and they are playing the victim! They also have alienated me from my own grandchildren! This type of SILENT treatment is clear ABUSE….

  2. Andrew

    Actually Adrian the answer is yes, anyone can stonewall anyone else at any time. I have know it to happen in a few situations between people, so it would be excellent to hear about this in another article.

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