16 thoughts on “The Silent Treatment: Understanding Wordless Emotional Abuse

  • April 6, 2018 at 11:59 am

    My ex would do this often. Once didn’t speak to me for 3 days because I didn’t give him enough warning before I started my period. (He was sex obsessed and hated going without.) Another time it was 4 days and I’m still not sure why – I think it was because he didn’t like the meal I made and I didn’t respond fearful enough by his reaction to it. But things were unraveling badly by then and I had mostly withdrawn into a shell to try and cope with other abuse going on.

  • April 16, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    My mom used to give me scilent treatment alot! I was the only child of the family. There was not many kids around me. I always was super lonely and unfortunately I still remember all those lonliness and her not talking to me and me begging for her attention. It was like that until I turned 6 and went to schools.
    I didn’t have much problems at school though. I was good at learning things, teachers were nice, kids were awesome. Everything was smooth and that helped I believe. I am married with a nice guy. I have a graduate degree in a health Science field. I know some psychology, but I I don’t know what to do with my emotional scars.
    I love my mom. We have a good relationship. She says she is sorry for what she did and that she thought she was doing the right thing at the time.
    My problem is that I cannot be in any kind of relationship without fear. I have the best husband in the world, but if something even small happens between us, it makes me go panic, crying, asking him “please tell me that you still love me”. It seems weird to him and he knows that’s my weakness and he never takes advantage of it. Other people however do sometimes.
    I frequently feel that fear of people not loving me, in my relationship with my friends, classmates, coworkers… It’s so strong that stops me from enjoying my life or being “myself”. Making others happy is always my priority. “Others” are the only important ones. Me and my needs can not be as important to me. I try to hide it and not to let others notice that. But it literally eats me from inside.

    • April 17, 2018 at 7:23 am

      I’m not a therapist or psychologist but this is a therapeutic issue, and you should see someone, rather than continue to suffer. Your responses aren’t a “weakness” or a character flaw but learned behavior which can be unlearned in therapy. Best, Peg

  • May 15, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    My dad would use the silent treatment broadly with our family. He just would go silent. He should speak to no one in the family unless a neighbor stopped by for coffee – in a farming community, it’s common for neighbors just to stop by to chit chat. He would talk to everyone like he hadn’t been silent until the neighbor showed up. When the neighbor would leave, it was like the light switch of silence would flip back to silent.

    This could last a few days or weeks. One day, he would just start talking to us as if nothing had happened. He wouldn’t say what he was mad about, who he was mad at, or what the cause was. I remember my mother once told me that I should let it roll off my back – I was 8 or 9. I just shut my mouth and never said anything else to her about it.

    It was awful. It was abusive.

    Outofthefog.net has some good info on the silent treatment at this link:

    I’m glad for therapy.

  • June 9, 2018 at 12:31 am

    Withholding is what my daughter is doing to me. She refuses to tell me why, even in counseling. How can such a situation be resolved?

    • June 9, 2018 at 4:05 am

      I’m not a therapist or a psychologist but how old is your daughter?

      • June 9, 2018 at 1:29 pm

        She’s 39.

  • June 27, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    I deal with this everyday since May 2017 when the flat-out stonewalling and withholding began. That is when I left my estranged husband (don’t worry, soon to be ex). The issue continues regarding all matters concerning the kids, property, money, etc. Anything that could possibly help make this divorce move faster (it’s been a year and he won’t even submit documentation to the courts after motions to compel have been filed). I guess the biggest frustration is regarding the children. If he does respond, it is usually an “ok”, but usually nothing at all. So, I’ve just stopped engaging and the kids and I move one like he doesn’t exist because in all actuality, he doesn’t. Now, when he texts me, I am to respond to him and his needs (usually asking a favor) immediately. Today, I say enough! I didn’t answer his plea for me to take the kids on his days. Sorry buddy, you’re a father. Deal with it!

    • June 27, 2018 at 7:09 pm

      I’m neither a psychologist nor a therapist and I understand your frustration, especially given the foot-dragging on the divorce. BUT as a divorced single mother myself—and this is a personal opinion–do not use your kids as pawns. Saying “deal with it” makes them into a burden. I say this respectfully but it is a very bad idea for you and, more important, for your children. Peg Streep

  • July 21, 2019 at 9:45 am

    I’m hearing impaired. Severe to profound hearing loss. I feel this silent treatment is used on me alot by my family and it was also used by my now ex husband. Drives me nuts when I ask questions but they don’t want to answer those questions. I realize that the hearing loss could be part of the problem, but when I’m an adult and have done everything to be able to communicate in a good way, why can’t my questions be answered? They aren’t unreasonable to make what ever further choices and decisions I need to. I estranged myself from my family because it was less stressful to have no contact than to have contact and all the silent treatment, the crazy making, mental and emotional abuse, the manipulation.
    You have described aptly part of what I have experienced.

    • February 18, 2020 at 6:39 pm

      Hmmm…Interesting….no response to my comment. 😒

      • March 6, 2020 at 9:59 pm

        I am with a bilateral sensorineural severe/profound hearing loss also. I empathize. I have a couple family members who do the same thing to me. Don’t blame your hearing loss- what they are doing is a form of abuse, plain and simple; if you cannot live an independent life for yourself by yourself, get to therapy where you can learn, retrace stwps, and live your true life again- free from the b.s. you have been putting up with. Sending love and light your way—

      • March 7, 2020 at 4:19 pm

        I’m very independent. Have very little contact with my family. Its too crazy making to be with them. They don’t understand it either….I think purposefully..

  • February 17, 2020 at 1:08 am

    I periodically get the silent treatment from my 50 year old daughter. It’s happening now. I wrack my brains wondering what have I done this time?
    It’s causing me deep distress. Emotionally and physically. I’ve been a good mother and a great grandmother. I just don’t deserve to be abused in this way.

    • February 18, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      The silent treatment is abusive and no one deserves it. Period. I hope you are calling it out. If she wants to criticize you, she can by articulating her thoughts.Best, Peg

    • March 6, 2020 at 10:02 pm

      Don’t give her that power over you….. your emotional health, it will never be stable and strong until you stand on your own two feet, in a solid confidence in yourself alone. Learn to do this- if a therapist is the solution, go for it- but don’t waste another day of your life waiting and hoping she is not angry with you. Everyone has a life to live…. including you! Love & light –


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