A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


The Silent Abuser done

This weekend I met up with a friend on my way to run a few errands.  I asked how her how the family was,  and she said "Fine." I then asked how her husband was doing, and she gave a nervous laugh, "Oh, he's mad at me right.  He's not talking to me."  "I'm sorry," I replied.  "Oh, you know how he gets when he gets this bug up his a... He'll get over it."  Sadly, I do know how it is when he catches the bug.  I've lived with one of those myself.

Many years ago I was involved with a man who, any time I did something he did not approve of, would give me the silent treatment. This would last for several days, sometimes even a week or more. I'd apologize for whatever it was that made him ignore me.... even though usually I had no idea what I was apologizing for, if there ever was anything to begin with. Eventually, I would find myself sobbing and pleading with him to talk it over, but he'd sit there acting like I didn't exist. At the time, I didn't  really did think of this as a kind of emotional abuse, but as I look back on it now, it really was quite painful endure.

It is true, that whenever  we hear someone talking about emotional abuse, the first thing we usually think of shouting and criticism. Most of us don't even realize that  there is another form that we hear less of and often don't even think of it as abuse...the disengaging partner. The most common form of this is stonewalling, the spouse who refuses to accept anyone else's perspective. Stonewalling can consist of the following:

Refusal to compromise
Refusal to negotiate a conflict in good faith
Refusal to support the other's plans
Refusal to discuss honestly one’s motivations
Refusal to listen to another point of view with openness

The partner who is stonewalling may not be overtly putting you down, but he is, nevertheless, he punishing you by refusing even to think about your perspective. And, if he even listen to you at all, he does so dismissively or impatiently...hurtfully.   The fact is, whenever someone is administering the silent treatment they are trying to show that they are dominant over you.

Silence is actually a silent form of anger that says you do not exist. Abusers use this as a form of punishment.  It is their way of banishing you from their existence, a punishment that makes you feel unimportant and not cared about. It is used as a form of non-physical punishment and control because the abuser mistakenly thinks that if they don’t physically harm you then they are not abusers. Anyone who has ever experienced it from a loved one knows that it is a form of torture.  It is a calculated for of power/control over others. The abuser wants a submissive reaction from you to make themselves feel more powerful and better than you, and it does, indeed, work.

Getting the silent treatment from the person closest to you can be hurtful and frustrating.  It can damage the individual's overall emotional health to the point where the victim report a sense of not belonging, loss of control, lower self-esteem and a feeling of unworthiness.  And, because we don't understand the game they are playing, we tend to work very hard to win back the good graces of others but most males still do not.  I remember how I used to cry, and because I didn't know any better, I would make sure that he saw me crying in the hopes that he would feel sorry and make up with me.  Little did I know that I was falling right into his hands and doing exactly what he wanted.  
Now, you might be saying, "I have given the silent treatment many times.  Does that make me an abuser?"  There is a difference between the silent treatment and what we think of as the cooling off period. The cooling off period is actually a good thing.  It occurs when one is so angry or disgusted by the other person that they just cannot deal with the situation and need some to calm themselves down before they begin to speak to this person. 
When I ran my batterers group, one technique they were taught was 'time out'.  Before you are going to do or say something that you will regret, take time out.  Go for a walk or go to another room.  Above all, do nothing to escalate the situation.

On the other hand,  the silent treatment is more along the lines of your doing something that angers the other person, then they don’t speak to you, acknowledge you or even make eye contact with you for sometimes days. Sometimes you don't even know what it is you were supposed to have done.  Silent treatment is an abuse, and no matter what is said and done an abuse is unacceptable.
If you are being given the silent treatment, remember that it is best to stop giving any credence to these tantrums and let your abuser know that you have had enough. You don’t have to play the same game.   Tell them, no , insist, that they stop treating you this way.  If you believe that there is hope for the relationship, then you must speak about your feelings in precise and clear terms. If not, and if the situation does not improve, perhaps it might be best to think about moving on with your own life. 


  1. I used to get a double-dose...first the beating and then days of the silent treatment or just plain ignoring me...I actually tolerated the beatings better because once they were done it was done...it was the silent treatment that had me walking on pins and needles all of the time....so glad I don't live that anymore and had the power to walk away!

  2. Yes, the silent treatment is emotional abuse It hurts just as much as a physical blow.

    It is punishment.

  3. In need of much help and advice. I have found myself filled with emotional ups and downs for the past several months. I recently discovered that the man whom I have been with for just over two years has been secretly talking with a much younger woman that he claims is just a work contact. When I finally confronted him about her, I was given the silent treatment "stonewalling" for over two weeks. I felt as if I was going crazy. My children and I live with this man, we moved in together two years ago. I sold my home that I lived in for more than 12years, leaving behind so many memories. I lost my husband unexpectedly on Christmas Day 2001, and was forced into single motherhood; I was so unprepared to say the least. Dating since his passing has been no walk in the park either. When I reconnected with Steve(boyfriend)after almost 23 years, it was like a love truck hit me. The love that I lost in 2001, was found in steve. Long story short, he has never had children. I on the other hand have twin boys who are 14. Just months ago is when i began seeing a huge change within his attitude toward all of us. I am afraid to be alone again. I need advice as I am falling apart fast.