We have all suffered many forms of abuse but the least talked about is “The mind game” otherwise known as the silent treatment; ie deliberately ignored to cause harm to another persons mental well being, sent to Coventry, deliberate sabotage to a persons life or/and credibility and is one of the most harmful methods of abuse used by abusers who feel that
“If they do not use their hands to physically abuse then it isn’t abuse.”
It is abuse to ignore someones needs emotionally and make them feel worthless, depressed and will cause long term damage so much so that in many cases it can lead to the victims physical health being harmed.
To deliberately cause harm to someone by use of the silent treatment, deny a person any emotional care, deny them any praise, starve them of love, affection, compliments, positive feed back, to regularly reject, degrade and deny a person any emotional responsiveness and to ignore a persons needs is mental abuse or also known as psychological abuse.
It is repetitive abuse that’s aimed at controlling, diminishing another persons well being in order to hurt, punish, harm or control them.
The silent abuser is able to switch himself off emotionally to the pain and suffering he is causing his victim and will deny he is the problem and he may tell himself or others that he is the victim.
You stop being a victim when you become the abuser
The abuser is capable of closing down all reasonable sense of emotions and turn into a cold heart very fast as he withdraws into his own world without any care for his victims distress . The abuser will behave in society charming, calm, happy, he will be seen by others as a pillar of society, gentle natured, helpful, kind, caring and fool the outside world into thinking he is abused and his partner is the abuser.
This is classic of a mental abuser. They will have their partner labelled a mental case whilst he plays the victim and saint and makes her the subject of of every ones rejection by labelling her with an unbalanced mind.
The true victim will be further rejected not only by her abuser but also by his friends, work colleagues, family and others he is likely to meet. The abuser needs to feel in control and he will seek constant approval from those around him and convince them that he’s the true victim. They will offer him advice and he will feed off their pity which will make him feel even more in control as he plays the victim.
The true victims may withdraw from all social activities, work, stop seeing family, they stop being fun, will see everything in a negative light, stop eating which is the start of dangerous health issues, cry alone, send text terror messages as a means to fight back which only gives the abuser more ammunition to abuse her with as he will use that as a further excuse to ignore and make her look bad in front of others.
The abuser will happily share the text messages because he wants everyone to see him as the victim. The true victim will stop functioning on all levels as the mind games take over her life.
She will find it hard to think of anything else but what is happening to her. The victim will fight with her own mind and struggle to work out if she is being abused or is she truly the problem. The victim may start behaving irrationally from the stress caused by the mental abuse.
Mental abuse is not normally seen by anyone on the outside looking in because they see the abuser as a strong, calm, caring and sincere person and will not be able to see the true character behind the person in front of them that they think they know so well.
Do you really know the person standing next to you?
Out of all the abuse I suffered (I am female), the one part of the abuse I have always struggled with is “being ignored” and made to feel I was in some way, the problem. When I begged for the abuser to stop he didn’t listen and when I sought help, no one listened. The more I was ignored the more it built up an extreme and unlikely intolerance for being “ignored” which has stayed with me as an adult.
I left care with that intolerance to the ugly side of human nature that often sees many people misuse the silent treatment to harm others. Some justify this behaviour and kid themselves that it’s in some way an honourable stance to take. Ignoring someone briefly when done to express dissatisfaction is very different to the silent treatment.
To ignore someone as a regular means to punish, hurt or upset someone as payback or for whatever reason, is in my opinion and the opinions of experts to be considered, one of the worst forms of mental abuse that exists in human nature. It causes irreparable damage to a person’s mind and will see the victims behaviour change slowly but noticeably when its out of control, especially by others who are close and on the outside looking in.
There are times the abuse continues and the victims show now outward signs to those who are close while the mental abuser witnesses the dramatic and extreme behaviour change in a direct response to his/her mental abuse in the “silent treatment”.
The silent treatment is a form of punishment and control and the person using it to harm another, feels a lack of care, responsibility or remorse and can not or will not communicate as she/he watches the victim slowly deteriorate. Someone who was once a lively, happy and fun person to be around turns into a whole new personality and becomes withdrawn, reclusive or maybe verbally aggressive to the abuser in a vain bid to stop the abuse of the mind.
The person dishing out the “silent treatment is FULLY aware of the damage they are doing and they are FULLY aware that all they need to do to stop the abuse is to simply talk to the victim.
The abuser will not talk to the victim when in control mode and when he does he will constantly lead the victim into a false sense of security at leisure, only to ignore again. The abuser will provoke any situation with silence which inevitably triggers off the victim who can never work out what has happened to warrant more silent treatment.
Each time the victim finds himself/herself fighting desperately with the abuser in a vain bid to stop her/him giving the silent treatment all over again. Its a catch 22 for most when dealing with a narcissistic personality.
The victims behaviour can change so dramatically he/she is hardly recognized as being the same person. Every time the silent treatment begins the victim is pulled further and further down and the abuser sits back and carries on with daily chores, blatantly ignoring the victim whom is obviously so distressed that no normal thinking individual person could or would sit back and watch such a shocking display of suffering.
The victim may withdraw completely, stop talking i.e. friends, stop socializing, stop eating, start drinking, stop working, start text terrorism against the abuser as a defence mechanism of protection but it never works, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and that’s just a few of the side effects of a victim suffering from mental abuse.
The “silent treatment” otherwise named as “deliberate intent to ignore” or “ATCH” which means ‘absent to cause harm’ which is where an abuser completely cuts the victim off and the abuser will not budge. They often acknowledge in their own minds that the victim is suffering but do nothing about it, walk away and simply ignore it.
The latter is a very dangerous form of mental abuse.
I have often heard stories of men ignoring their partner, even after causing such distress that she has taken to self-harm or attempts to take her own life. The mental abuse has weakened her once strong mind into a nerve wrecking display of self doubt and depression. The abuser will hear her calls of desperation and he will empty himself of all emotions and walk away. He will show no emotions as she tries to take her own life. He will convince himself that she deserves it for hurting his feelings by trying to fight back.
Its not often friends get to witness the mental abuse of the systematic silent treatment or mind games from a partner because it is silent. In some cases friends will witness erratic behaviour of the victim but cant quite understand what’s going on because the victim will blame everything but her abusive partner. It is rare anyone on the outside of the relationship sees the suffering of the victim as the abuse often like most forms of abuse stays “within the immediate relationship”.
The male abusers friends will only see their charming friend who they all love because he will do anything for them but seldom do his friends or family witness what he is doing to his partner. They will only see the abusers partners displays of distress especially when triggered in a public place or social gathering.
The “silent treatment, ignoring or ATCH” abuser is fully aware of their actions and fully aware they are causing a significant amount of harm to the victim in most cases but there are those who do believe they are the victim. The victim may at times have the odd outburst in front of others or in a public place.
The abuser will then inform his family of every little thing his victim/partner does as he seeks refuge in their company and portrays himself as the victim in need of support, because he has a totally “maniac” partner whose lost the plot. He is then seen as the wonderful soul who is good enough to tolerate such a manic person in a relationship.
This form of mental abuse is used more often by the man than a woman but men do suffer this same form of abuse and they too remain silent because they do not want to be seen as un-masculine.
Eventually once the victim has been totally broken down by the mental abuser, she will give up fighting back, beg for forgiveness and beg the abusive partner to forgive her. She may well go to the extremes to try and make it up to her man because she has been slowly drawn in and is now under his mind control.
The man will continue to use this method of mind control and ignore, use the silent treatment or ATCH tactics until his partner has been totally exhausted, feels totally helpless and it opens her up to being controlled just so he can get what he wants. Sadly this form of abuse has seen the deaths of women who self-harmed or taken their lives when their cries for help are ignored by the abuser. It can be a consequence of the action.
Self-harm – deliberate cutting or mutilation of one’s own body including ripping hair out, stop eating, stop going out, withdraw from society, cut off hair, stay in bed, over eat or attempt suicide.
The reason I am touching on this subject is because I have seen a number of women email me on facebook who are going through this right now with their Turkish partners or they have just left such an abusive relationship and sit in silence blaming themselves.
I also want to touch on this subject because I am a survivor of child abuse and I myself have gone through the mental abuse process and contrary to what people believe, it is not easy to leave such a controlling relationship.
Men who have been abused as children physically, sexually or mentally and/or suffered abuse by a parent due to the damaging effects of poverty are well known for using the “silent treatment, ignoring and ATCH” methods to punish and control their partners. These men will convince themselves they are not abusing because they haven’t physically hit the woman and he will convince her he’s very good to her by not saying anything. He will almost always convince himself he’s the victim and show no remorse at all for the suffering he is causing by punishing and controlling someone he claims to love.
These men are often found unwilling to contribute to the relationship they are in and show little or no care or respect for their partner . He expects her to hold the entire relationship together all by herself whilst he laps up the comfort of control and does nothing to contribute or support the relationship. He will not show emotions when challenged or he may eventually turn to violence when confronted.
Ignoring a partner may also be a sign of infidelity or a man who is not in control of his own emotions and shuts down. Regardless of the circumstances, mental abuse and the negative power of the “silent treatment, being deliberately ignored or the ATCH” abuse is never the less very damaging for those on the receiving end and needs to be address by either the abuser entering therapy or for the victim to leave the situation. If the man recognizes he’s an abuser he can seek help from a professional. The victim must seek professional help to get out of such an abusive relationship before she is so worn down it will diminish her life slowly but surely.
by Teresa Cooper
When does the silent abuse turn into physical abuse?
This article also relates to men who also suffer this form of abuse by their partners.