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Author Topic: Silence: The Ultimate Control - Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD  (Read 6250 times)
JoannaK
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« on: February 16, 2008, 09:10:27 AM »

Silence—The Ultimate Control and Power Over Another
By Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD


Verbal abuse, in general, is a means of maintaining control and Power Over. There are fifteen categories of verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is a violation, not a conflict. In describing verbal abuse it is a boundary violation, it is an intrusion upon another, or disregard of another in a relentless pursuit of Power Over, superiority and dominance by covert or overt means.

In a conflict each person wants something different. However, in a conflict the parties discuss their wants, needs and seek a mutually win/win solution. While seeking the solution neither party forces, dominates or controls the other.

One might think verbal abuse is primarily in low-income families with poor education. However, studies reveal verbal abuse is within all educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. Levels of education range from high school graduates to Ph.D., M.D., JD, etc. Occupations vary and include artists, professors, lawyers, politicians, medical doctors, psychiatrists, homemakers, CEO’s, and entrepreneurs.

Silence a.k.a. Withholding is the most damaging and hurtful form of verbal abuse. One might think that in order for the behavior to be considered verbal abusive words need to be spoken. This misunderstanding of verbal abuse adds to the recipient’s confusion within the relationship. The recipient of silence/withholding may believe the relationship is functional because the abuser may communicate functional information, but refuses—through silence/ withholding (non-responsive)—to communicate on an intimate level.
There needs to be more than an exchange of information. Healthy relationships require intimacy. Intimacy requires empathy. To hear and be heard and to understand another’s feelings and experiences is empathetic comprehension. Intimacy in a relationship can not be achieved if one party is unwilling to share him/herself and is unwilling to be supportive of the other in an empathetic way.

Silence/withholding enables the abuser to control and have Power Over while keeping his/her ideal image intact. The abuser’s ego construct is extremely fragile and without a stance of control and Power Over, the abuser’s feelings of powerlessness would be felt as an assault to their well constructed mode of functioning in what they consider a hostile world.

This is not to say that two people may not always understand each other or may have difficulty expressing feelings, the intention to understand and/or express feelings is the foundation from which both parties function. One person alone can not create intimacy in a relationship.
Silence/withholding speaks louder than words and creates as much emotional damage as hostile words. Simply stated, silence/withholding is a choice to keep virtually all one’s thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams to oneself and to remain silent and aloof toward another, to reveal as little as possible, and to maintain an attitude of cool indifference, control and Power Over.

The consequences of any form of verbal abuse may vary in intensity, depth and breadth. However the outcome of any form of verbal abuse impacts the receiver’s self-perception, emotional well-being and spiritual vitality. Verbal abuse takes the joy and vitality out of life through the distortions of reality, because the abuser’s response does not coincide with the sender’s communication.

The primary consequences of verbal abuse includes, but are not restricted to:
      • distrusting one’s spontaneity
• doubting one’s perceptions
• reluctance to come to conclusions
• perpetual preparedness, on-guard state
• uncertainty about one’s impact on others
• believing ‘something is wrong with me’
• constant soul searching and reviewing incidents with the hope of determining what went wrong
• eroded self-confidence
• constant self-doubt/confused
• frustrated/enraged
• a heightened ‘critical voice’
• loss of happiness, but unable to identify the reason
• anxiety or fear of ‘being crazy’
• fear of being ‘at fault’
• humiliation/shame/guilt for one’s state of affairs
• realizing time is passing with no reconciliation for peace of mind and happiness
• sense of life passing by
• belief ‘if only I could change everything about myself everything would be better’
• a strong desire to escape—including running away or suicide
• belief that what one does best may be what one does worst—I am darned if I do and darned if I don’t
• propensity to live in the future—“Everything will be OK if/when/after….”
• distrusting relationships in general and specifically with the abuser’s gender

Verbal abusers are generally in total denial that they are abusive. Therefore, the great tragedy in a verbally abusive relationship is that the other’s efforts to bring reconciliation, mutual understanding and intimacy are rejected because the abuser experiences it as adversarial. This is so because of his/her fragility and inability to be vulnerable to create a mutually equal exchange. The raw truth is—if you are in a verbally abusive relationship, the opportunity to change the relationship is difficult. Without guidance and support of professional help it is fair to state the obvious—it is impossible.

Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, author, national and international speaker, specializes in emotional health and healing. As an inspirational leader, Dr. Neddermeyer empowers people to view life's challenges as an opportunity for Personal/Professional Growth and Spiritual Awakening. www.drdorothy.net
Article Source: www.EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dorothy_M._Neddermeyer,_PhD
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2008, 10:09:14 AM »

Excellent article Joanna. It's great to see such powerful truths written in so few words. I know I can identify with the majority of those bulleted items on the list. I am glad I am far beyond that in my life now and trust my own feelings and reasonings. Maybe this should be mandatory introductory reading to new members.
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Letting go when it is too painful to hang on is hard to rationalize.

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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2008, 10:22:23 AM »

Very powerful. I read this and wonder how I even stayed married for 7 years. This was my life.

Peace
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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2008, 11:21:34 AM »

After my childhood and first marriage, I thought I knew everything about abuse - but, the verbal abuse and the silent treatment are so much more insidious than straight out abuse... .so much more internally damaging.

I always tried to make it clear how much the "silent" thing hurt me but, he never did understand... .or perhaps he knew exactly how much and that was the whole point.

Damn.

Great article, one that I will save.
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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2008, 02:09:33 PM »

This is a really good article! Thank you so much for posting it. I admit I use the Silent Treatment sometimes. I know it's wrong and I usually apologize for doing it. My reasons aren't so much as a power/control thing as a coping mechanism. I don't do well with "negative" emotions - anger, hurt, sadness. So when those feelings come on, I often retreat inside myself, cutting off my loved ones. It's something I am aware of and I am trying to improve upon. But I never really thought about the ramifications of my silent treatments on those I love.

Thank you!

Chili
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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2008, 05:10:31 PM »

Joanna,

   That was a great article.  Sometimes what should be obvious isn't so obvious.  Many times I've accepted things as almost normal.  We all know physical and sexual abuse is wrong yet our society tolerates verbal abuse more than it should.  Social services won't interfere if a child is emotionally or verbally abused (as I learned when I talked to them about a neighbor).  They want actual physical signs of abuse.  Yet who knows how much damage is occurring in the brains and hearts of those who are abused verbally, emotionally and psychologically.

   I think schools should teach a class on good mental health.  They teach kids about drugs, sex, physical health but mental and emotional health isn't talked about much.  The neighbor kids who were abused just thought that was normal.  When you grow up in a dysfunctional environment, you don't always know what is healthy.
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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2008, 03:21:34 PM »

Wow!  Your timing for this poll and article could not have been better!

This is exactly how my exBPDbf used to act over small things.  I felt very much like many of the descriptors in the article said the "abused" person might feel.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

~DH
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2008, 09:19:46 AM »

This was a great article.  MY GF often uses the words that she is "shutting down."  Then I don't hear from her for days.

I used to think she just needed space and time.  Now I see it as punishment.
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2008, 10:00:05 AM »

I would have to confess that I have used 'withdrawal' as a kind of control (though i don't think I realised that's what I was doing at the time).  Before I knew anything about BPD and before I entered OZ fulltime, there would be times I felt 'under siege emotionally' in some way and I think the only way I could regain control was to not say anything because I knew that was the one thing that drove him nuts.

Having been on the receiving end bigtime including actual silence (don't think I was ever silent - just didn't share), I hope I never manipulate someone in this way again!

And yes, I've done the frantic trying to pull him out of it even though I'd done nothing wrong to start with.  Still learning... .


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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2008, 11:27:07 AM »

I had so much exposure to silence I thought I wasn't worth talking to.  When I first asked what was wrong (many years ago) she would say she was just a "quiet" person.  However when the rage surfaced she was very loud.  Silence was always explained away with something plausible.  I would say to myself I know she said she loves me, but she doesn't talk to me, or sit by me.  Long periods of silence meant an eruption was coming.   

A number of years ago I started reading Paul Ekman.  He invented the facial action coding system and is the worlds leading expert on deception.  The Gottman Institute can use 90 seconds of video of a married couple discussing an issue (no audio is needed) by scoring the gestures with the facial action coding system they can predict with 85% accuracy the success or failure of the marriage.  That was fascinating to me, considering my marriage.

It is Ekman's theory on lies that made me start wondering about my situation.  Any action to mislead is a lie.  His book talked about silence as a tool of deception and a lie.  His concepts on "leakage" was the first step for me in understanding what I had gotten myself into.

So silence was the most important warning sign in my case because it was the most visible. It took so much energy and critical thinking to understand. I was  lost until I stumbled upon Ekman and the Gottman Institute.
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2008, 11:40:08 AM »

The Gottman Institute can use 90 seconds of video of a married couple discussing an issue (no audio is needed) by scoring the gestures with the facial action coding system they can predict with 85% accuracy the success or failure of the marriage. 

This might be a little off topic, but I wonder if the Gottman Institute considered NPD ?

My uNPDxh convinced most everyone, including myself that he wanted the marriage to work/would do what it took.  In the meantime there was a lot of deception re: money, alcohol.  We were with our MC over a year before he realized that my husband was likely NPD (and I know that he also felt betrayed).  The diagnosis was suggested to me via a third party who communicated with MC, with my written consent. 

Could a person with BPD/NPD "pass" the 90 second eval ?  Or would they automatically fall into the 15% that could not be decided ?
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« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2008, 10:51:58 AM »

My ex was master at the silent treatment.  He often raged and left me (as he still had his place to go to) but he also gave me the silent treatment quite often.  He had been married 3x before our relationship.  During those relationships he had no place to go to, so he would go silent.  He told me he would go for as long as two weeks without saying a word to his wives.  I was luckier, b/c he could leave me so the silent treatments didn't last that long - usually five days or so.

Imagine you sit down to dinner together - he turns his shoulder so he is looking away from you.  His body language is complete withdawal.  He speaks only politely to pass the pepper, or whatever.  Our usual routines would be interrupted - normally, we'd have a cup of decaf before bed - I would ask him if he wanted some - In a snidely pinched way he would respond, "No, I don't think so."  This is withdrawal of love to the extreme - it is not only punishing, it is cruel.  It is incredibly uncomfortable, incredibly controlling and downright inhumane.  Yet, I don't think he could help it.  Very Strange.  It was unbearable, along with the rest of his abnormal behavior. 
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« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2008, 01:08:07 PM »

So does this qualify as silenet treatment?  My ex-gf, who I believe is a quite BPD, calls me very week since April after she told me she did not love me anymore.

Last Monday I called her and tried to speak to her.  She claimed she was only calling me to be "friends."  I told her that was not true, and I could prove it by letting her know I am seeing someone else, where upon she started to cry, which Ipointed out she would not do if it was just about freindship.

After I told her that I was really not seeing anyone we had a frank conversation.  I told her I still cared about her, and loved her, but would not be treated the way she has been anymore.

She told me "not to push" and would "think about seeing me agian." Now that is pretty funny. 

Well, it has been one week and I have not heard from her.  Is that silent treatment as you speak of?  What do ya think?  Is she going to call again and still keep playing this stupid game?

I won't call her, so will she break down and call?

This is strange stuff.
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« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2008, 02:38:51 PM »

So does going LC/NC with the BPD qualify as verbal abuse from us to the BPD? 

Many people with BPD parents have gone NC with them, not to get a reaction from the BPD but as a means of terminating an unhealthy relationship.  Are they being verbally abusive to their BPD parents?  Is that what is implied?  Or it is abuse only when the BPD gives the silent treatment as a temporary mechanism to create an emotional response in others? 
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« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2008, 02:37:19 AM »

Wow,

Does this read familiar!  I'm separated 4 years, divorced for two.  Yet when i read the consequences of verbal abuse, i can say "Been there.  done that.  got the anxiety, legal bills and counseling bills." 

My other installed the buttons, the BPD ex wife pushed on them during our marriage and now that I am co- parenting with her, these are her primary weapons of choice. 

Rich
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« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2009, 04:31:47 PM »

I found this article to be very enlightening and very helpful as I am experiencing the silent treatment by a BPD co-worker/estranged friend.  I think I needed to read this to realize that she is probably not going to change and what I need to do now is to distance myself from her as much as I possibly can.
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« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2009, 07:08:09 PM »

Joanna,

I didn't rate this very high because I tried to read it from the staNPDoint of my exBPDgf... .As if she were reading it. The silent treatment was her number one tactic when she felt she'd been wronged. Sometimes it lasted days.

I just don't think she'd have gotten it. And if that's the case, what good would it be if I got it, being the one that's abused.
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« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2009, 07:53:40 PM »

Question:

I can see that intentionally not being communicative with my SO except to make her worry, as being abusive.  How about in the case where my SO has been consistently verbally abusive to me, and I withdraw refusing to discuss it, because my boundary has been violated so many times.  Am I being abusive in return?



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« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2009, 08:53:05 PM »

I do remember begging my mother to speak to me. BEGGING. So sad for a 6 yo to beg her mother to look or speak to her. Of course, it is still sad that I am 30 and find myself still begging her to speak to me. I am getting better!

And now, I see myself. Punishing my husband by not speaking to him. I am trying really hard to remember if I have done this to my own children. I am ashamed to say I think I have. Again, I need to unlearn these behaviors.

Thank you for a great article that brought me more awareness.
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« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2009, 10:28:07 PM »

Thank you! I needed to read this now... .

And now a word of thanks, from my favorite mascot... .

Where would I be without your help?

Welcome

js
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« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2009, 12:44:51 AM »

  This is an excellent article and illustrates in all points, how I lived.  One of the repercussions I have come to realize is that I would look at articles and workshops like these and begin taking my own inventory (essentially a good thing... .right?) yet I would do so in the ways that my ex would project from herself... .back on to me.

i.e.

Read article and... .

Point A (omg that's what she says I am)

Point B (same)

and so on.

I'm seeing how damaged I had become in this.  I'm now seeing things not only to dig within myself but also just trying to look at the facts as though I'm looking objectively at two people I care about.

Question:

I can see that intentionally not being communicative with my SO except to make her worry, as being abusive.  How about in the case where my SO has been consistently verbally abusive to me, and I withdraw refusing to discuss it, because my boundary has been violated so many times.  Am I being abusive in return?

Yes my ex was very abusive.  Point made.

True and fair enough, I was verbally abusive at times too. 

When she would be screaming, stopping only long enough to interrupt and redirect my replies to an issue she wasn't screaming about until after I did reply, physically trying to restrain me and making paragraphs of different issues into one sentence by injecting the word "and" where a period should go.  I did yell things like "God, would you just shut the (word) up."  I'm not in defense of it nor am I proud of it even in this scenario but I did learn allot about who I don't want to be in this life.

Verbal abuse and the silent treatment were things we both participated in so it gets pretty tough to point fingers.  I guess I feel that I could lend my own legitimacy if I had walked away from it "the first time" instead of staying in the relationship to participate in the dance... .which is what I did.

When verbal/non-verbal abuse is intentionally, and with forethought of malice used to manipulate and control that's another story imo.  I wasn't interested in damaging my former.  I just wanted it all to stop.  I guess that's a form of being controlling too as I'm not taking the responsibility to walk away instead of engaging because short of a T-90 (Tank) nothing was going to stop the war between us and at times I was that Tank.  Again, not good.   

So... .when I did walk away... .when I couldn't find a kind word in my head for what was going on between us, I got silent.  I couldn't speak a kind word without it all starting back up nor could I speak a harsh word without hating myself for it and simply saying "please stop" never stopped anything.  I even tried saying "I love you" in the midst of some of her most abusive episodes which was only met with bitter, venomous, sarcasm.

I don't think going silent in order to calm things down is abuse as much as it is a sign of emotional damage.  Maybe I'm wrong here and if I am I'd really like to know.  In the end, I had almost nothing left to say and it really had nothing to do with controlling her but everything to do with controlling myself while trying to find a way out of what was like living in hell to me... .to us both.

As going silent is concerned, I guess (and it is only a guess) it will depend on one of two agendas in an abusive home. 

One would be an agenda to stop the abuse and that if the abusive person can't be stopped then only my participation in it can and in the extreme... .I had nothing left to say.

The other agenda would be an agenda to perpetuate the control and manipulation; emotional blackmail to get the other person to bend to the will of their partner.  It's a "want" driven motivation and not a "care" driven one.

Thank you and peace, UFH

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« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2009, 02:45:53 AM »

I enjoyed this article. For years I was treated with the silent treatment and completely ignored, unless my ex husband controlled the conversation. It was devastating to my sense of self and self esteem. When I returned to college, I was afraid to join in on class discussions due to self doubt.

For years I made excuses for his behavior "he is a quiet person, he is shy".  One time at a Christmas party, his drunken secretary was at our table telling everyone what a wonderful listener he was and offered so many insights and was a very compassionate and empathetic man. It was the one of those moments where I knew something was terribly wrong but there was no framework to understand the behavior. This article is validating to read. I think back on how confused I was and am thankful I am no longer in the marriage. I feel so free and thankful I left.
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« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2009, 07:42:42 AM »

I'm struggling with this right now.  I know there were times when I had been so hurt and frightened that I withdrew into a little cocoon and the last two years of our marriage I'd spent alot of time in there.  He was drinking, spending more money than we had, angry at me all the time and claiming I was the source of all our problems.  It seemed like every time we tried to talk it was a diatribe of how I had changed and not for the better and he needed more (attention, sex, money, respect, the list goes on).  I've been seeing a therapist for a year now and we are working on my issues, but to hear him talk about it, he was being mentally abused when I crawled into my shell.  I wasn't doing it to hurt him, I was doing it to protect me.

But while I'm trying to protect me, I'm also hurting him.  So is is possible I WAS the cause of some of the lunacy?
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« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2009, 12:13:39 PM »

Well,

What about the times when you know , "everything you say will and shall be used against you"?

I spent plenty of times not speaking a word to my stbxBPDw, because I knew just one word would send her into rampaging.

Yes, it was silent treatment, but to protect myself.
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« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2009, 01:28:20 PM »

This is an excellent article and addresses exactly what I deal with re: my BPD daughter.  She has verbally abused me for years with both words and the silent treatment. 

Meanwhile connected to what this article explains so clearly- was the fact that besides being exhausted and hurt by her verbal abuse - I also ALWAYS have had hanging over my head 24/7/365 - the FEAR      that my D would cut me out of her life and that is one reason why I have put up with her verbal abuse for years.  I doubt this is a new concept. 

My D has cut me out of her life on and off and each time it felt was so UNFAIR and I felt devastated and was in disbelief.  And when she "took me back"  I would go on allowing her to continue verbally abusing me  ? because I wanted to be in her life and I kept hoping she would change if she could only realize how much I love her.

Having said that I VERY recently was able to let go of the FEAR of her cutting me out.  That fear was very draining so now I do not have the FEAR- and I know that not having the FEAR does not = the fact that she could cut me out- she has on and off.  Still I feel a gain ofsome energy back from the way my FEAR of her cutting me out has taken a toll on me BUT... .

I was/ am still left with  - what is in the article was/ is still whirling in my mind- the way I put up with her verbal abuse - some of it is silence - some has been actual words.  Putting up with verbal abuse is terrible-because as the article says there is no way to have a rational discussion about such a thing with a BP.  But I have put up with her verbal abuse because of my Fear that she would cut me out again if I made waves with her.  Now that Fear is gone so where does that leave me?  I don't know yet. 

All I know is that I have used much of my energy living with her abuse (she does not live with me presently) and I was/ have been/ am drowning it -the pain of her verbal abuse- until I am aching in my bones- I am still suffering from years of that... .the pain of it all- the energy used up from suffering- how many years taken off my life.  My own daughter! 

But nonetheless- I went for a walk and came home and came to this site and here it was in black and white- maybe what the next leg of my journey will be about- i.e. understanding what has been going on... .the way she abuses me.  I feel validated by this article.  I see in the article what she exactly has been doing.  And maybe now seeing will be believing as even though I have said it out loud to my support system and wrote it in posts on one of the boards that she takes out all of her angst on me - that I am her scapegoat- I for some reason did not exactly believe it

But... .now it is time to work on this- to start believing that she DOES verbally abuse me... .  it was as if I was SUSPECTING that she was verbally abusing me (strange as that sounds) instead of BELIEVING it.  Now it is time to learn to BELIEVE IT!  I am bookmarking this article! 

Thank you
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« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2009, 06:23:05 PM »

OOhhhh!  This is my question exactly.

Excerpt
Question:

I can see that intentionally not being communicative with my SO except to make her worry, as being abusive.  How about in the case where my SO has been consistently verbally abusive to me, and I withdraw refusing to discuss it, because my boundary has been violated so many times.  Am I being abusive in return?

when he has pushed alllllllllll of my buttons and I am ready to blow up, sometimes I will just be quiet because anything that pops out of my mouth right then cannot be good.  I don't want to yell and scream because that is how his mother caused his emotional problems and sometimes I am pretty sure that is the reaction he wants from me.   I want to discuss the problem when my mind is clearer and I am not steaming mad so I will take a break and take a nap, walk away, turn up the TV and tell him I really want to watch this show- whatever to collect myself.  (by the way, I have found out the hard way that if I leave the house my BPDh takes it as abandonment, again reminds him of mom walking out and not returning for days when he was 5)

I had not intended this to be emotional abuse but I was trying not to escalate the situation.

Now I am confused.
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« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2009, 02:33:25 AM »

Wow - thankyou. I am enjoying a silent periods often lately. And I appreciate the insight. The silent treatment usually starts with "shut the f**ck up". And he often contrasts the silent with happy phonecalls to friends. I am going to double my focus not to take it personal and that I should consider myself alone during these times.
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« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2009, 07:01:15 PM »

Used to call it "Michigan J. Frog" behavior after the old Warner Brothers cartoon -- you know, how the "Hello My Baby" singing-and-dancing frog would shut down on cue whenever an audience appeared, much to the dismay of the manager.

Well STBXH adored the public spotlight but would deflate the moment the spotlight turned off, when it was just me and him, when we weren't around others anymore.  The switch would go off immediately, like the instant we dropped off our friends at the end of some social outing -- sorry, no energy left anymore for interaction with me.  (And this from a guy who always complained we didn't have enough of a social life.)

And yeah, the tone would automatically perk back up again if he saw something funny on TV or if he were on the phone with someone else -- wouldn't ever want to show them that darker side of course, not from such a nice guy.

What a darned easy way to act out towards me.

I got tired of trying to energize us or him, and after a while, would just talk to myself and tell myself jokes.  Then he'd complain that I was mumbling, not loud enough for him to hear.  Whatever. 
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« Reply #28 on: May 17, 2009, 09:08:02 PM »

I never realized I was in a verbally abusive relationship. until I came here.    I just assumed I was inadequate as a spouse, never finding the right words, reactions, thoughts, justifications for anything I ever did.   I spent my life with parents who argued but made up, and who, when they would treat me badly, would realize it and apologize. 

Oddly, living in a normal world didn't prepare me for noticing that things were abnormal in my current relationship.    I assumed that everyone had natural empathy and ultimately desired relationships in which friction wasn't the only constant.   

With every abusive comment, shifting of the truth, lie, crazy making statement, fight, silent treatment, refusal to apologize or treat me like a human until I apologized (regardless of fault), and halfassed apology that began with "I'm sorry but... ." I assumed that I was the one who couldn't make things right, so I drove myself nuts, with only my gut and subconscious screaming "THIS ISN'T RIGHT". 

I realized in the past year that the verbal abuse had lasting effects.   I lost my self confidence, I lost my ability to process information rationally, I lost my compassion, and my psyche has shifted to being depressed and unhappy. 
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« Reply #29 on: May 18, 2009, 08:16:06 AM »

as a newby to this site I have learned so much about my BPD husband I loved the article and just like mssalty I found myself apologizing for everything, have lost alot of confidence.  Even now he is vascilating beween his mistress and whether to be with me but can't say what he wants so switches the mobile off and I'm sure he is doing that with her too.  No remorse for the situation either so I cut and pasted the article for him and he can read it at leasure.  Thank goodness for this support group it is allowing me to understand more about what has been going on for 20 years and how awful it must have been for him as a child

Looking forward to growing in strength and moving out of the fog 
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« Reply #30 on: May 26, 2009, 11:20:12 AM »

Question:

I can see that intentionally not being communicative with my SO except to make her worry, as being abusive.  How about in the case where my SO has been consistently verbally abusive to me, and I withdraw refusing to discuss it, because my boundary has been violated so many times.  Am I being abusive in return?

Yes, good question ... .I can't help it, articles like this always set off my "warning, warning" system. Having been accused at one time of "emotional abuse" ... .by my dBPDw.

A BPD could easily read this article and come away thinking that they are the victim.

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« Reply #31 on: May 26, 2009, 11:58:13 AM »

Hi Auspicious and Arjay --- Unfortunately my STBHX had such a big dose of paranoia/narcissism thrown into the mix that he could read (or read into) most anything and consider himself the victim.  I see your point about the article, but victimization seems to be just a basic part of the illness as least as far as my X was concerned.  There could be no supposed "payback" of the silent treatment however justifiable on my part.  And often, after my attempts to talk things out had failed -- again -- distancing would often be the most civil choice I had to protect myself.  When he was in Martyr mode, it was all about him.  In fact, given his History with a capital H (as opposed to mine), he was the one allowed to use the word "abuse" and only on his terms.

Yeah I'm feeling feisty today.  And sad, wishful again that he would have read something to turn on the "aha-moment" lightbulb.
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« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2009, 12:10:26 PM »

... .wishful again that he would have read something to turn on the "aha-moment" lightbulb.

Something we all "wished" would happen "one day".  I quit "wishing" my friend, when I realized BPD was an illness and not just someone having a series of "bad hair days", something I naively thought for a long, long time.

Peace
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« Reply #33 on: May 26, 2009, 12:15:32 PM »

I guess my concern is that the word "abuse" is both very highly charged, and frequently unhelpful. 

Like a big, very poorly calibrated gun or something. That randomly shoots either blanks or high explosives.

OK, I can't think of a good metaphor. That one sucks. But the thought remains
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« Reply #34 on: May 26, 2009, 02:04:25 PM »

Good points, both Arjay and Auspicious.

Good analogy, to connect wishing and bad hair days.  I still get caught in that -- sure boils down to the Serenity Prayer doesn't it? 

And good analogy, actually, about the big out-of-control gun shooting whatever it would at the moment -- marshmallows or dirty bombs.  Abuse is a very highly charged word.  In our case, STBXH insisted on his exclusive right to use the word about his experience, as a victim, past/present/future.

I guess I'm still butting my head up against the things I can't change or control.  Sigh.  Sometimes I still catch myself wanting Utter Vindication.  But that would be black-and-white thinking wouldn't it?
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« Reply #35 on: July 06, 2009, 07:05:18 AM »

my wife gives my son (her step son) the silent threatment almost every day... .unless he speaks to her first in a very clear & direct way so that she can't possibly ignore him.

she never says good morning, good night, hello, good bye... .she'll often talk about him to be when he's right there in the room as if he's not even there... .

so would my wife's actions be verbal abuse?
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« Reply #36 on: July 06, 2009, 07:13:45 AM »

I've been NC for 5 years now with uBPD parents. Been somewhat puzzled by one thing. Parents kidnapped me and my kids many years ago and I got away from them 5 years ago... .long story. There was so much control, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and even some sexual abuse. When I got out of their house and away from them, they stopped contacting me completely. Don't BPD's keep trying to contact? Is this the silent treatment (another form of abuse) they are trying to inflict on me? Sometimes the absence of healthy parents is overwhelming and I feel like an orphan at times.

But is this the silent treatment you speak of or something else altogether? Parents do still have contact with my kids: now 21 and 23.

Thanks.
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« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2009, 05:48:40 AM »

When I got out of their house and away from them, they stopped contacting me completely. Don't BPD's keep trying to contact?

Not always ... .sometimes they paint you permanently black in their mind.

Is this the silent treatment (another form of abuse) they are trying to inflict on me?

Usually their actions aren't even really about us. They are about their own internal pain and turmoil.

Is it possible that you seeing their silence as active, directed, abuse toward you is a way for you to picture at least some connection with them?
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« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2009, 06:15:54 AM »

Excerpt
Usually their actions aren't even really about us. They are about their own internal pain and turmoil.

Yes, I am slowly beginning to understand this.


Excerpt
Is it possible that you seeing their silence as active, directed, abuse toward you is a way for you to picture at least some connection with them?

This is an interesting question and I am trying to think about it from all sides. This is not the first time they have been silent towards me, but the longest. I guess it is most puzzling why they continue to have contact with our kids who look so much like me and have similiar mannerisms: why not reject the offspring also? When I realized that they really have been rejecting me all my life, it was quite painful and I grieved. But I feel like my grieving is about over. I AM realizing that it has more to do with them and not me. That they don't reject me because I am undeserving of their love, but because of who they are. By the way, I am not the only relative that they have "cut off" for years at a time. uBPDm's sis has been cut off for 15 years.

I do not desire a connection with uBPD parents. My son recently told me that "you have more to learn from your parents"    Quite a shock to hear this from him. I assumed that it was actually a near quote from uBPD parents. I am much more careful what I tell my son now, knowing that he is in regular contact by phone with them. He also said that he was enjoying getting to know them better.

I have gotten SO much healthier in so many areas in my life since I went NC and uBPD parents (and sisters, nieces, nephews followed the FOO mandate). It has been painful as I tried to love all of them while I was still around them, even my uBPD parents. Thanks for the reply.
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« Reply #39 on: May 08, 2010, 10:24:27 PM »

I read the article on this that Joanna posted, and it was helpful to see the silent treatment as abuse.  As a victim of the silent treatment by my uBPDD, it hurts.  I have never understood the silent treatment, but was told by my mother that my grandmother used it often.  Dont get the idea my mother was/is savvy at communication, but that's not the topic.  I used tocall the silent treatment a withdrawl of love technique, educating my children that it was not a healthy way to treat others. My D didn't get that; she uses it regularly.  Anyway, I am not expecting to hear from my D for mother's day, as she's in a mood... .or maybe not thinking about the fact that I exist (object constancy).  I read about others not wanting to communicate with various family members on certain holidays, and I want to recognize their need to maintain boundaries and set limits, but I'm also looking at it from the perspective that if I am in a relationship with someone else, someone I want to be involved with or am related to, and I genuinely care about that person, why would I want to hurt them.  Wouldn't I want to make an attempt to mend the fence? share my appreciation for what we do have together?  Doesn't the silent treatment identify a person as the immature one?  the angry one?  How does the party ignoring the other justify their behavior in their own head?  My daughter is a very smart person intellectually, I just don't understand how she rationalizes her behavior... .
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« Reply #40 on: June 22, 2010, 01:18:46 PM »

This is exactly what my husband does to me. He wont talk to me for days. When I ask him things about the kids or daily occurrences he will respond in a negative way by snapping a short answer at me. It is so frustrating, when he goes into one of theses episodes I feel I do not know him and can not reach him emotionally at all. He will talk to other people like our children, like nothing is wrong. It is only me he does this to. I used to try and talk to him and get him to tell me whats wrong but now I just try not to talk to him until it passes.
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« Reply #41 on: June 23, 2010, 12:07:01 PM »

Hi, Momm22- My DH uses the silent treatment, too.  Only he will not speak at all until he is ready- and it often takes days and days.  I am learning to enjoy the quiet, these days.  Silence is control- they are refusing to give us any affection or emotion or even common courtesy of conversation.  If the check-out person at a grocery store treated us with stoney silence- would we ever go back there?  And yet, the folks who promised to love, honor, and cherish us do it at will.  Have you checked out the tools on the "Staying Board"?  Very helpful to me!

Praying for you, as I do for us all.

God bless,

JDoe
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SeekingInnerPeace

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« Reply #42 on: February 24, 2012, 10:21:39 AM »

Wow, if only I had read this insightful article 4 years ago, when it was first written... .might have saved me alot of heartache in the interim, and searching for answers I could never quite find.  So many of the answers I needed are right here in this article.  Thank you.
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« Reply #43 on: March 23, 2012, 02:06:26 PM »

   This is an insightful article.  I'm not in an exclusive relationship right now.  But I can

   see how this has happened to me in the past.  I've been on both sides.  Ghees.  Hate

   to even think about that.   It usually happens after an arguement.   With family

    members for instance.   Sort of who will speak to the other first?, kind of thing.   

            Reading through this,  I feel there's a difference between being 'silent' as in not

    wanting to answer a question or go to a topic that may feel inappropriate and

    'the silent treatment'.   ?   Any thoughts on that.   

             Thank you for this post.  I like applying them in my life in general ( good

          communication practices)

                 and realizing I'm still on the path of 'getting healthier' in my

           expression.                 
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bb12
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« Reply #44 on: April 19, 2012, 03:33:48 AM »

yep - basically the only reason I found this forum was through my search for information to ease the pain at being given complete silent treatment.

my exBPD went to with-holding, and then complete silence

said he'd be back in touch when 'he could stand being in the same place as me'

so, by virtue of not being able to chat it out, you effectively sit in a permanent state of 'waiting'.

suddenly 5 months has gone by and they have not broken

they have not replied to requests by voicemail or text to break the silence, chat it out over coffee

nothing. just the awful silence

and it drives you crazy!

ultimately, you live with a lump in your throat and you wait

only time has diminished the intensity of the pain, but having never been abused like this, there is still some pain every day and I worry that there always will be

it has past the point of no return now. he is loving the power, and every attempt by me to reconnect is another feather in his cap and another nail in the coffin of the relationship

BB12
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« Reply #45 on: May 14, 2012, 08:00:01 PM »

Thank you Dorothy for your excellent work.  xoxo

My uBPDd31 didn't give anything of herself verbally, while she was growing up. 'what did you do at school?' 'Nothing' etc etc etc. I only wished I knew how to address the situation then, maybe things could have turned out better.

And my dh hasn't been much better. I constantly am trying to develop a stronger intimacy in our relationship. Over a week ago I asked him three questions: what do you want me to change doing? what do you want me to keep doing? what do you want me to do differently? Initially he treated as a joke. He has responded to my answers for him. But he doesn't know how to give of himself. Years of on and off MC and it has boiled down to the same thing. You don't listen to me, you don't talk to me... .Nevertheless, it is a strong relationship we have on so many levels. So, I'll send him a copy of the article, let's see how it goes then... .

Sad thing is, I think I can also put up barriers... .currently NC with D. For her sake as well as mine. Sometimes it all just gets too much.
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« Reply #46 on: July 05, 2012, 07:53:13 PM »

The silent treatment started during the devaluation and then progressively got worse. I would walk on eggshells as they say and get no answer. Sometimes she would be on the phone and not say anything for minutes at a time. In the early stages, when this occurred, I would wind up the conversation but she went out of her way to either make it difficult to hang up by starting a new topic, turning it on me and hanging up first or she would come up with statements to the effect I was treating her poorly by inferring had something more interesting to do. Near the end, it was cold, calculating, ruthless and anything I said or didn't say was attacked or used against me. I also played into this, so I was enabling her to get away with this punishing behaviour so it was not one way traffic. By that time, I was almost in a state of shock seeing her ugliness emerging.
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bb12
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« Reply #47 on: July 05, 2012, 09:03:57 PM »



My feeling is that with the Silent Treatment, we (nons) can not win. It either drives us to react / lash out... .in which case they find an excuse to justify the ongoing silence... .or we cop it but feel a massive sense of abandonment, social isolation, ostricisation and other anti-social cues.

My last communication to my ex (after 8 months of silence) was to send him a JPEG I found that had a caption "I don't chase anyone anymore. If someone no longer wants to be part of my life, I show them the ___ing door"

For the first time ever, he responded... .with "do you see how actions like this make me not want to talk with you?"

So I feel wrong, immature, at fault, crazy. When this person abandoned the r/s 8 months ago for no apparent reason and has never explained himself or what I did that was so bad as to warrant complete severance and the ignoring of my many early attempts to communicate.

Insane stuff... .and not about boundary setting on their part at all. Not about needing to gather their thoughts. just impossibly cruel, childish, unnecessary stuff!

BB12

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« Reply #48 on: July 05, 2012, 09:21:28 PM »

Your experience was similar to mine. As you mention, if we reacted in any sort of way, it justified their abusive behaviour and they'd project it, calling us abusive. Lines such as your actions/words "make" me not want to talk to you again are common. I heard that one tons of times. My ex used to "joke" with me about how she never cries over boys and that they are not worth the trouble. I asked her if that included me and got the silent treatment. Then, moments later I rationalised all this by suggesting that two people who loved one another would surely miss each other if they parted. She told me she wouldn't care if I left because what could she possibly miss about me and that I would be lost without her. I asked if she loved me and she said, no. After a few minutes of this she laughed and told me she might miss the intimate stuff.
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« Reply #49 on: July 05, 2012, 09:32:10 PM »

Hey BPDlover

Mine needed me for a while as I pulled back during the 'reality testing' phase. Called a lot and was very nice even after we'd stopped 'dating'

This lasted about 3 weeks, then cut me cold when found new supply. Came back again when that one didn't work out. I chided him for dropping me when he finds new people.

He said, "well if I needed you once, I certainly don't now". I asked if he missed me at all. He laughed and said "hell no".

As he withdrew, I became so needy. He barely called, never initiated anything (especially phone calls). Whether I played it cool and or not... .he never called. I would wait a week, two weeks. Then even a month. Nothing. Everything he came to was done begrudgingly like I'd become a massive burden. Made me feel awful. Yet I still paid for everything, booked everything. Then in DEC he found new supply and when I called around xmas time he texted back saying "take your midlife crisis somewhere else"... .never communicated with me since.

We were together romantically for 2 years. But if I look at it objectively / clinically... .he has never actually initiated a phone call or email since the day we stopped dating and agreed to be friends. Mindblowingly cruel stuff. But we can't win. They project everything back onto us and make us feel completely nuts

BB12
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« Reply #50 on: July 07, 2012, 10:53:15 PM »

They sure do bb12. You cannot win with a loser. They don't identify with a loving heart or seem to understand loving behaviour. Just like a toddler, they want their needs met and do not really care who does it for them. They see good and bad in all but not to the degree a healthy adult does. We know who we like and dislike. They pretend to like everyone and end up a victim and perpetrator in one at the end. There is so much shame tied into them from all these destructive associations. Like your ex, mine vanished for new supply or space often and told me many times she wanted nothing more to do with me. I was on the other end of the phone questioning why a person would find fault with a conversation or situation where there was none. She would return or I would call to see how her pregnancy was as I was in a no win from that moment on. I didn't know whether to walk away, check in on her or be with her. Of course, she didn't know what or who she was from one day to the next. The second last break was five weeks and I never found out if she had new supply. The last one has been for over two years and I am now very aware that I did not know her at all. She can have all the silence in the world back now.
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bb12
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« Reply #51 on: July 08, 2012, 12:14:30 AM »

I didn't know whether to walk away, check in on her or be with her. Of course, she didn't know what or who she was from one day to the next. She can have all the silence in the world back now.

I hear that BPDlover! And that's the crazy-making part for us, the Lonely Children. We try to understand the speed of the withdrawal... .the cruelty when the situation never called for it. The punishment when it doesn't fit the crime. and ultimately, we try to make sense of reality... past and present, for their behaviour now brings into question the entire time you were together.

I have come to realise that my 2 years with my xBPD was so one-sided and so unhealthy. But I couldn't see it at the time. Mine was also fairly casual. Emotionally connected sure, but we didn't see eachother much more than one or two times per week and no real intimacy was required. When I decided it wasn't a genuine partnership and pushed for a bit more empathy and commitment, he felt engulfed and completely withdrew.

So amazing to come out the other side a year later and to see things for what they actually were - to have learned so much about how life and even how I work!

BB12
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« Reply #52 on: August 11, 2012, 01:39:35 PM »

Thank you, thank you.  I am new to board, new to the recognition that I have an uBPDm.  All the many painful years of shunning and the silent treatment - I thought I was all alone in this experience since I have no friends who have ever experienced this.  The bullet points essentially summed up my feelings through most of my childhood and adulthood.  Have gone NC, as I can no longer bear the soul-destroying feeling of being shunned without reason, and then called back into the fold (aka forgiven) at the whim of my Witch mother and enFOO who goes along with her (othewise, they would be "betraying" her).  I can't say I understand the behaviour, but it helps to know this is a (sadly) common way for pwBPD to behave.
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« Reply #53 on: June 27, 2013, 07:10:31 AM »

Great article thanks so much! and this is not just for BPD! I am beginning to realize that I have expirienced this type of abuse in more than one relationship, without even knowing! It is like I am so used to it... . damm
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« Reply #54 on: July 07, 2013, 08:34:47 PM »

It is probably up there with the worst abuse I have suffered. I was on and off with her for eighteen months, then suddenly barred from her life over three years ago. The baby was six months old then. She is now pregnant again and has recently married. I cannot help but wonder is she the same person? It is hard to view this with a fresh perspective. Maybe she is now healthy, on medication and her four kids to three different fathers will all have emotionally stable lives. My life is quiet without her around, there is no crazy making. I wonder what the new husband is feeling? Is he feeling powerless and emasculated? That was the worst sort of abuse. She made all decisions about her children without any consultation to her parters/the fathers. She would talk to her family and friends/helpers before trusting a man. She openly told after having our supposed child that she would find a good man to raise him. I wish I could go back. Why did I believe in someone so hollow? My life was simple for thirty five years. It feels as if I met an alien. She switched her birth control and I thought nothing of it. I insisted on condoms and we then used them. How did this happen? It has happened again and I am a bit traumatised. I wonder if there is continuous chaos in her life still? Is he being scapegoated and set up like I was? It is sad. Her family convince themselves I am the worst person on earth. I hate injustice.
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« Reply #55 on: July 07, 2013, 09:13:00 PM »

Wow!  Great article!  Silence was and still appears to be my exes weapon of choice.  Intimate periods in our r/s were always followed by days of silence.  The more our relationship progressed, the more silent he got.  I was slowly conditioned to this behavior, amazing how I found it acceptable. 
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« Reply #56 on: July 07, 2013, 10:52:05 PM »

Great article.  My exBPDbf gave me the silent treatment often.  Probably the most painful time was Easter 2012.  He got angry and stormed out the night before because "I didn't make him feel welcome."  The next morning he came over to pick me up to go to an outdoor Easter church service. Immediately when he got to my house I could see the (still) angry look on his face.  I tried to placate him by giving him a hug.  He didn't hug me back.  We then drove to the service in silence, got out of the car and started walking. I told him that I loved him. He responded that "love is more than words." He didn't speak to me before or during that whole service. 

After the service my parents were coming over for brunch. I was in turmoil about how to smooth things over with my bf so the time with my parents could be a special. It was the last Easter I would have with my dad who was terminally ill with cancer. He passed away 2 1/2 months later. 

I look back at that day and I'm still astounded at the lack of emotional maturity and compassion by my bf during one of the worst times in my life.  The memory of that day is still so very painful.
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« Reply #57 on: August 12, 2013, 07:51:00 PM »

Question:

I can see that intentionally not being communicative with my SO except to make her worry, as being abusive.  How about in the case where my SO has been consistently verbally abusive to me, and I withdraw refusing to discuss it, because my boundary has been violated so many times.  Am I being abusive in return?


I have the same experience and I'd like to know the answer to this too... .
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« Reply #58 on: August 12, 2013, 08:42:21 PM »

I am sure there are wiser minds out there than mine, but this is what I think... . I think... .

Boundaries are based on our values. If they are not based on our values, their purpose is hazy. Our boundaries, when we have to verbalise them, should be explicit, they should have consequences if they are broken.

So, if I have a boundary based on my core value of respect that says I will not tolerate verbal abuse, then I will have consequences for that violation, eg I will leave the room.

To maintain a silent treatment is abusive. It is about 'revenge' they have hurt me, I will hurt them. It is not healthy for anyone involved.

PwBPD can learn that if their behaviour is not getting them what they want - they can change their behaviour. But this is not easy. Our behaviour needs to be kind, logical and consistent and of course, based upon our explicit values. That means we act with integrity.

Finally, I have to learn to meet my own emotional needs, not expect others to do so. If I am hurt, I need to learn how to soothe myself.

does that help?

Vivek    
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« Reply #59 on: June 11, 2014, 09:45:31 PM »

I am sure there are wiser minds out there than mine, but this is what I think... .  I think... .  

Boundaries are based on our values. If they are not based on our values, their purpose is hazy. Our boundaries, when we have to verbalise them, should be explicit, they should have consequences if they are broken.

So, if I have a boundary based on my core value of respect that says I will not tolerate verbal abuse, then I will have consequences for that violation, eg I will leave the room.

To maintain a silent treatment is abusive. It is about 'revenge' they have hurt me, I will hurt them. It is not healthy for anyone involved.

PwBPD can learn that if their behaviour is not getting them what they want - they can change their behaviour. But this is not easy. Our behaviour needs to be kind, logical and consistent and of course, based upon our explicit values. That means we act with integrity.

Finally, I have to learn to meet my own emotional needs, not expect others to do so. If I am hurt, I need to learn how to soothe myself.

does that help?

Vivek    

You are completely correct.  I used to go crazy, apologize and beg every time I would receive the silent treatment from my BPDbf but now i have completely changed my attitude.  Every time he gives me the silent treatment, i try to reach out to him once, and when he does not respond, then I just stop reaching out to him, move on with my life and he knows it.  The silent treatments have actually decreased in length and he know that he will definitely lose me if he continues the so called, "punishment".  I guess, you need to just treat them like little kids and ignore their negative behavior.  I believe that if he cares enough for me, then he will come back and act appropriately.  If he doe snot want to act approriately then I will ignore his tantrums and move on with my life. 
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wemi223

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« Reply #60 on: December 17, 2014, 06:11:11 PM »

There is nothing quite so bad as walking through the door and having your SO not even turn their head to acknowledge they've noted anything new of interest happening around them.

That and saying something or asking a question and getting no acknowledgement that a question was even asked or a statement made, much less a response.   My favorite is saying hello or goodbye and getting absolutely nothing back.

This can go one for weeks with me and my wife as I just generally return the favor now.  It used to kill me.   Time for a new approach bec. for me, it is not an acceptable way to live my life.
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JRT
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« Reply #61 on: January 22, 2015, 12:51:42 PM »

my uBPD left suddenly and created barriers to any contact... .is this a manifestation of the silent treatment? Or are they no at all related? Mine still visits my FB page (and knowing her they way that I do, even though it has been 4 months, I believe that she has not detached at all).
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SamwizeGamgee
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« Reply #62 on: November 06, 2017, 01:57:27 PM »

Great topic and article. Thank you.  It has been very thought provoking.   
I am certain that my wife has given me the "silent treatment" on and off since we were married.  It used to throw me into all kinds of turmoil, and admittedly it worked for years to get me to try harder, to be better - and I can see how it served my wife's interests in the marriage - it got her what she wanted and needed.  I would get silence and cold anger for days or weeks sometimes. 

However, after 20 arduous years of marriage I've gotten to the point that I can readily admit that I give my wife the silent treatment.  I notice this now - that I am still guided by the idea that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.  I do still feel that my wife's happiness is important to me.  And I maintain that happiness through lies.  Lies and silence.   

I feel bad about lying (a discovery I made after some T visits was that I thought I first lied to her about going to see a T, but, in fact, I have been lying to her by staying married and tolerating her behavior, and acting like I was "in" the marriage).  So, I remain silent about important things, lie about my feelings, or mix the two behaviors.  I don't give her the silent treatment to control her, hurt, her or maintain the Power Over (thanks for making that connection between silence and controlling the power in a relationship by the way).  I do remain silent about most things, and completely sealed off all intimate emotions and my true self, in an attempt to be kind, not trigger her, not JADE, and so forth.  I have developed a extraordinary ability to control my emotional output, moderate myself and try to dispel or avoid conflict and anger.  Silence has been a method to do this also. 

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Live like you mean it.
Motorcycle Man

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« Reply #63 on: December 06, 2017, 06:16:17 AM »

Thank you for the well-written article.  My spouse has a personality disorder (BPD?) but regardless of the name, we've been married for over 3 decades and her openly verbal abuse has resulted in my choice to retreat and remain as silent as possible and when I least expect it, she has a reaction to something I say that is totally irrational.  Recently, I made the mistake of telling her about a funny photo that I sent to my kids and when I  realized that I didn't send it to her, which I've stopped doing, she said "you must have sent it to someone else" and I have taken this as an accusation of infidelity, which she regularly accuses me of,with absolutely no basis.  It's impossible to remain completely silent but I do the best I can to minimize her verbal abuse. Thanks again for the article. 
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