Silent Treatment Abuse Is Real, Be Careful!

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Lori Pace

You probably think of abuse when you think about physical violence, shouting, or intimidation. An abusive relationship doesn’t have to be violent. To manipulate or control their loved ones, some people resort to silent treatment abuse. This is an example of emotional abuse.

When you’re angry or frustrated, it’s normal not to want to talk with someone. This happens only occasionally, and usually goes away. If a person uses the silent treatment to control or influence your behavior, it is considered emotional abuse.

When Does The Silent Treatment Become Abuse?

Emotional abuse refers to a set of actions and behaviors that are designed to undermine a person’s self-esteem or self-worth. This behavior can lead to an increase in dependency on the abuser over time.

Silent treatment refers to a person refusing to communicate or talk to another. It’s normal for people to let their emotions settle after an argument or frustrating conversation. However, the silent treatment can be used over a longer time period and is often used to control or punish the person being ignored. Silent treatment abuse is also known.


Silent Treatment Abuse

Emotional abuse is done at least partially to control a person’s behavior. Emotional abusers often use their actions to make their victim feel less than or more dependent on them.

You are being subject to silent treatment abuse if someone gives you the silent treatment in an attempt to control your actions. The person may say that they won’t talk to you unless you apologize or refuse to speak with you if your friends go out. You shouldn’t be using the silent treatment to control their behavior.


The silent treatment abuse can also be used by abusers to get you to do certain things. They might offer you the silent treatment to get you to sex, or money. You may be experiencing emotional abuse if someone gives you the silent treatment in order to get something for them.

Length of Treatment

It’s normal to take some time after a heated argument. It’s actually a healthy way to cope with anger and ensure you don’t say or do anything hurtful. If the silent treatment is prolonged or used regularly to avoid important conversations, it’s not a healthy choice.


Humans are social creatures. For centuries, being made to feel excluded or marginalized has been used for punishment. Exclusion activates the same brain areas as being a victim to physical violence. Hence, you may feel excluded if another person uses the silent treatment.

How To Resolve Your Issues With Silent Treatment Abuse

It is not the victim’s responsibility to resolve abusive behavior of another. Abusive behavior is not your fault. Talking to your loved ones about silent abuse can be a safe way to talk to them.

Express Yourself Calmly

Express Yourself Calmly
Calmly talk to your partner!

Talk to your partner in calm times, not when you are being treated with silence. It’s hurtful and abusive and you must work together to change it.

Set Expectations To Avoid Silent Treatment Abuse

Talk to your partner about communication rules, especially when you are having arguments. You might agree that it is okay to let things cool down, but you should also set boundaries. 

One of you might decide to take an hour-long “timeout” from an argument or that you will always talk to the other before going to bed.

Establish Boundaries

You should set boundaries regarding silent treatment abuse. If your partner continues to give silent treatment, let them know the consequences. If you feel that your boundaries have been violated, it is time to take action.

When Should You Seek Help With Silent Treatment Abuse?

Both victims and perpetrators can benefit from professional guidance. A relationship counselor can help you and your loved ones if you fail to make changes in your communication patterns, but still receive the silent treatment.

Other Signs Of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is more subtle than physical abuse. Emotional abuse can also include silent treatment.

  • Name-calling and general meanness as well as put-downs
  • You can control where you go, what you see and how you dress.
  • Gazing at or making doubts about things you’ve experienced
  • Threats to your partner, including threats of harm or divorce.
  • Jealousy
  • Any controlling behaviors
  • Blaming them for their behavior
  • Feeling bad about wanting or not wanting to have sex
  • As a way to control, you can be inundated with compliments or gifts.
Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!