The silent treatment is the passive aggressive’s go-to tool of control and abuse because it really hurts. It’s like a nuclear annulation. When someone isn’t talking to you, looking at you, or listening to you, you are effectively shut down, shut out.
The weapon that erases you
You may feel crazy. You wonder what’s wrong. What did you do? The passive-aggressive won’t tell you. That’s his/her power. And there’s nothing you can do. If you hand silence right back, the passive-aggressive will pretend to care, will ask what’s wrong and if you dare to tell him or her, a huge denial (but not an apology or a change) will result. Don’t let this kind of denial fool you, the act was intentional and will happen again. See how the passive-aggressive works to seem benign but actually cause harm.
The silent treatment is a way to control you
Did your mother ever put you in the corner, or refuse to talk to you until you apologized for some wrong-doing? Mine did. Sometimes I didn’t know what I had done wrong, so I had to keep apologizing until I found the right thing. My mom didn’t suddenly start talking to me again. Sometimes, I’d make the right apology, but the silence continued for a while. The silence from a loved one made me doubt myself, and sometimes when people are quiet even now, it triggers my old fear of doing something wrong and being punished for it. The silent treatment can be a form of emotional abuse.
You can grow beyond it by better understanding yourself.