Silent treatment, also known as emotional withholding is a form of abuse. It is passive-aggressive and should not be tolerated. 

It is a means of devaluing and ostracising an individual by ignoring their very existence and make them feel insignificant. It feels like a punishment worse than death.

The abuser avoids any form of dialogue with the target until they are sufficiently satisfied that the victim satisfactorily punished.

You find yourself apologising even though you may not be evident to what you have supposedly done.

Targets often possess high empathy, emotional intelligence, conflict resolving-skills and are driven towards restoration. Every attempt to resolve any conflict help enhance the abuser’s self-righteous indignation and puts them right back in control. 

Silent Treatment vs Cool Offs

Silent treatment should not be confused with cool offs. While people need some time to cool off as an effective means of finding solutions and resolving conflicts in relationships, the motive behind the use of silent treatment is far from being that of conflict resolution but of chastisement.

Also, cool offs are usually time-bound, and the purpose is generally known whereas silent treatment indefinitely with its duration depends on the abuser. The objective is not known to the target.

Reasons Most People Rely On Silent Treatment

It is used to keep you in your place.

It puts the abuser in a position of control.

It is an accountability and responsibility avoidance strategy aimed to suppress partners attempt at asserting their needs and self-worth.

I find the use of this form of abuse very ruthless and has not a consideration for the emotional damage it causes the target.

Solutions To Consider

Consider ways to repair the relationship by reaching out and sharing how you feel about the silent treatment. Offer apologies if you played a part in the conflict.

If you are dealing with a narc, you should consider cutting your losses. It’s never going to end.