Recognizing and Treating Silent Treatment in Relationships

A strong message through some simple words,” Don’t give people so much power over you that their silence leaves you questioning your worth.”

Abuse in relationships takes various forms like neglect, violence, physical assault , sexual assault and verbal abuse.
But, there is a much ignored and often “silent killer” in relationships which has more damaging effects on a person’s self-worth, confidence and feeling of being loved.

No guesses there, it is silent treatment, the more sophisticated technique which manifests itself in an abusive or emotionally abusive relationship.

Stonewalling is quite a different tactic when compared to silent treatment. Your partner may use stonewalling as a defense strategy to avoid conflict or to sweep matters under the rug before things get out of control.
There is breakdown of communication in the middle of an argument which prevents further scope of resolving the issue, finding the reasons and preventing it in the future.
Let us now dive in to the most common signs which are hard to ignore and can be sure shot reasons your partner is resorting to this form of emotional control in the relationship.
• You have a small argument and he or she walks out in the middle , without voicing his or her opinion .
• They make you follow them around the house and do not answer even if you persist.
• Your continuous pleas, messages or calls have no effect whatsoever on this erratic behavior of theirs.
• Your tears do not make them budge any more and this can continue for even weeks on end.
• You ask them for the reason for their anger or resentment and the answer is —silence
• You are at your wits end to apologize, beg and plead for your mistakes to make them stop the behavior.
• They repeat the behavior even after you have explained them the pain it has caused to you.

After understanding the signs and being absolutely sure that your partner is resorting to this behavior deliberately to make you” pay” for your mistakes or display them power
• No wonder, silence is considered the worst form of torture and it is for a very valid reason. Did you know that prisoners who have done the worst of crimes are sentenced to solitary confinement?
Even six months of this form of punishment has turned those prisoners mad due to the silence surrounding them. Being trapped with only your thoughts and your worst memories is the worst form of torture meted out in some countries!
You don’t deserve such treatment since you are not a criminal nor have you committed such a grave sin to be conferred this punishment.
• Being one-half of the relationship means you have every right to feel emotionally secure at any point of time no matter what the situation of your marriage or your relationship.
• Your partner had started that behavior, right? Then it is their responsibility to end it once and for all for your sake and for your relationship’s sake.
• You DO NOT need to bend to their demands to end the silence since this is what they had wanted you to do in the first place.

Now, how do you deal with this behavior and explain to your partner that this is just not done. How to prevent conflict yet deflect that behavior before it manifests itself.
Call it by any name but it is a big sign that you are stuck in an abusive or toxic relationship with a partner completely at a loss to get to know your thoughts and opinions without enforcing their rules on you and making you bend by feeling guilty.

• Stop blaming yourself
• Do not retaliate and try to get even with the same silent behavior
• Do not try to please or pacify them to forgive you , even if you know it was not your mistake.
• Do not waive off or postpone that behavior pattern since it is bound to strike again some day in the near future in another tense situation.
• Try to understand the trigger to that behavior of theirs, is it happening only during an arguments or is it happening every now and then to try to manipulate and control your behavior till you accept their point of view or conditions?
• The latter is a sign of a bigger problem , it is a tell-tale sign of a toxic relationship which needs to be mended with some professional counseling.
• If the behavior happens only during arguments, then it is good news, since once you both start talking again, the reasons and solutions can be thought out to prevent this episode again in the future. You can advise your partner to write down their feelings if they are resorting to silence to avoid hurting you with words and urge them to talk it out and finish the matter for the better health of your relationship.
• Consulting someone close to your partner , who can convince and change this behavior with some understanding words to give them a new direction can also be of great help. But, you must be careful to draw the boundary to not hurt your partner with too much outside interference. They just need to learn to deal and overcome this behavior to keep the doors open to further communication in the most tense situations.
• If you are unable to mend the relationship and it is hurting to stay with such unpredictable behavior, then it is a good step to firmly tell them that it is better to break up rather than staying together in pain.

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