The silent treatment is a punishment common in relationships, when one partner completely ignores the other, going through their day as if they were no longer there. Silent treatment abuse, it can be argued, is more abusive than physical harm as it can be considered a form of torture the longer it goes on.
Silent treatment is the simple acting of ignoring someone. It becomes an issue of power and control, banishing someone from existence. The abuse is caused by the emotional toll it takes on the victim.
People use the silent treatment to effectively ignore problems. Rather than face reality, the silent treatment becomes a way of dealing with a difficult situation and is to gain control of and manipulate a relationship.
Purdue Psychology professor Kip Williams states that the silent treatment tends to have detrimental effects emotionally and physically on the receiver, resulting in low self esteem, depression, loss of belonging, increased stress and loss of control.
The silent treatment is form of ostracism, according to KenSavage.com. Being ostracized affects the part of the brain that detects pain, meaning the silent treatment causes actual physical pain.
The silent treatment is issued to hide a vulnerability and awareness of who the person really is. By completely ignoring their partner, the issuer does not have to deal with any outstanding issues, an unhealthy way of dealing with problems in a relationship.
- Ostracism: The Power of Silence; Kip Williams; 2002