When someone is in the same room as you, but acts like you don’t exist it’s called the Silent Treatment. They don’t speak to you, answer your questions, make everyday comments – they completely ignore you and act as if you are invisible. This is a form of emotional abuse or bullying. By treating you as though you don’t exist the person is trying to punish you in a non-physical way. They are manipulating or controlling you into believing you are a ‘nothing’. As a non-person you are not valued or cared about and have no self-worth.
Abusers use excuses to justify their silent treatment:
I didn’t do anything
I needed my own space
I thought you needed your own space
I was depressed and didn’t want to drag you down
I thought we both needed to cool off
I felt threatened/insulted/hurt by you
I needed time to think
I didn’t want to fight
You told me to leave you alone!
I needed to sort out some problems from my past
Excuses are just one more way for an abuser to blame somebody or something else for their abuse.
Being ignored on purpose can be very disorienting. It wounds without an obvious scar. So, what can you do?
1) Acknowledge to yourself that this form of punishment is not acceptable.
2) Acknowledge to the person that this form of behaviour is not acceptable.
3) Inform the person that you need to discuss the situation in order to repair your relationship.
4) Do not plead or beg.
5) Ignore the ignoring.
6) Carry on doing your own thing.
7) Don’t play the game by demanding to know what you’ve done wrong.
8) Change the subject.
9) Try to deal with your own emotions of frustration, anger or hurt.