The Sextuplet of Silence

The use of and imposition of silence are two of the most powerful weapons in our abusive arsenal. Silence is easy to deploy and horrendously effective in securing our aims of compliance, control and fuel.

1. My silence is always meaningful

You may sit quietly because you have no need to say anything. You may remain silent because you are listening to somebody else or just enjoying the silence.  We do not allow silence to be used in such a passive and redundant fashion. Our silence is used to convey contempt. It is used to draw concern and cause anguish in you. When we fall silence that pregnant pause is an indicator of the fury which will be unleashed against you. The longer silence is the imposition of our cold fury as you are banished to a sustained silent treatment. When we sit in silence we are not savouring the lack of noise, we are thinking, planning and plotting, calculating our next step. Our silences are weapons, they are our operations headquarters, our defence against your critical wounding of us. We use silence to hurt you, warn you, scold you and indicate you have overstepped the mark. Every silence has a meaning, it would be remiss of us to use it any other way.

2. Absence makes the silence longer

The deployment of an absent silent treatment where we remove ourselves from you, invariably with no warning or indication is a confirmation to you that this silence treatment will not be short-lived. The need to absent ourselves sends you a clear signal that we will be gone for some time. It is designed to have you come after us, try to contact us and beg and plead so that you fuel us. When we impose a period of absence by vanishing we are reinforcing how easily we are able to consider you gone from our lives. You may not even be able to contact us but we gather fuel from our knowledge that this sudden disappearance will cause you considerable consternation and worry. The absent silent treatment is also a key indicator that we are engaged in the seduction of a new prospect and providing this person with our false love and attention, which we have removed from you.

3. The silent gesture

Our silences are not just occasioned by us not talking to you or absenting ourselves for a period of time. We deploy silence through gestures. We may not turn up when we have agreed to a date with you, in order to reinforce how your mean so little to us and that we have any number of more pressing engagements to attend to than dine with you in a restaurant. Leaving you alone in bed, our side of the bed now empty and cold is also a hammer blow to your confidence and self esteem as we choose the spare room, the sofa or the bed of another in preference to being with you during the night. The silent telephone call from a withheld number, used when we are hovering you, is designed to put you on edge. Is it us calling you this late? It must be mustn’t it, but you cannot be sure? The failure to buy you a gift on your birthday,  creating a gap which ought to have been filled stand out considerably and allows us to apply maximum hurt through such a silent gesture.

4. The silent presence

By giving you the cold shoulder when everyone else is met warmly and enthusiastically, we cause you to feel completely alone even when you are surrounded by others. You try to carry on as if nothing has happened but you know that people will be wondering why we are not speaking to you. You feel the flush of embarrassment as once again you try to speak to us and you receive only a glare and then we sweep away. You want to challenge us but as ever it is you that will be criticised for creating a scene. You want to upbraid us for our childish sulking but you have learned that the consequences of doing so are not worth suffering. We of course know all this and we know how powerful our freezing you out in the company of others really is.

5. Suffer in silence

You are never to speak of what goes on between you and I to anyone else. Should you ever do so you are committing an act of heinous betrayal and your punishment for such a transgression will be malicious and fierce. You are not to betray me and speak of what you are subjected to. You are to endure it so that you become a better person, one who is compliant and obedient. Do you understand? I also know that you fear the repercussions of speaking out and this enforces my curfew. I also know that you feel compelled to remain loyal because of the golden period and how you feel duty bound to remain and try to resolve matters, work this difficult period through and fix what has become somehow broken. Your indefatigable spirit teeters on the brink of misplaced pride at not telling tales and instead knuckling down, irrespective of what is thrown at you, in order to bring about a resolution to our problems. You cannot succeed but you do not know that yet. For now you must suffer in silence.

6. I speak, you stay silent

Never interrupt me, never talk over me, never steal my thunder. When I speak everybody listens because what I have to say is brilliant, great and of tremendous import. You would do well to listen to improve yourself, please me and avoid angering me. You are my sounding board, Horatio to my Hamlet, a listener and in my presence you only speak when it is required to honour my achievements and laud my greatness. You are to be seen but only heard when I deem in necessary. Who wants to listen to what you have to say anyway? You only get invited to events because of me. They are only friends with you because they are friends of mine. Nobody is interested in you. Nobody. So stay quiet and listen.

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50 thoughts on “The Sextuplet of Silence”

  1. Silent treatment is the new golden period embrase it welcome it wth open arms enjoy it cherish it live your life with out him silent is golden it’s priceless

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  2. Yes, Mother, I am never to speak of what goes on between us to an outsider. This is a rule I know well. You made this rule because your almighty image would be shot to shit if anyone found out what goes on behind the closed doors of our home.

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  3. Very well said and describes many of the “fall-out” episodes I experienced at the hands of my N, who would drop out of sight and be incommunicado for days at a time, w/o explanation, or disappear in the middle of phone conversations (VOIP: no hangups, she’d just disappear) or stop communicating during our chat sessions. Thank you for your explanations. Knowledge IS power and your insights, excellently described, have helped me move beyond the destruction she joyfully left behind.

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  4. 🙁 this hits too close to home….. I need to think more before I comment something 🙁 . Becasue its schocking to find out such a meaning of silence 🙁 , because I adore silence, but not when it has this meaning 🙁

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    1. It is like someone said above callous and cruel. #1,2,3 repeatedly and diverted with lies/ false explanations…
      Thanks HG for this overview. Its hard to read but very useful to continue umderstanding.

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    2. There is definitely a vast difference of all of us enjoying some nice quiet, me, myself and I time and what he is describing here. lol

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      1. Yes Clarence and you tend to think the other person is doing the same. Taking time to reflect… Honestly reading this was a bit schocking. I had never thought about maximizing hurt..
        This is why the natural goodbye words that we give as I wish you the best and thanks for all the nice moments etc etc never come… That silence that now we now what it means…
        I anyway with all that I learned here could give closure to at least make neutral that pain that consumes inside.
        I still love silence although I it does not mean the same to everybody.

        When my kids are gone every other weekend with their dad. The initial silence of terribly missing them is a little bit unconfortable but then soon my home, HGs books, rest, my cat … And I enjoy the silence very much.
        Is it the same for you when your daughter leaves for her dads weekend? I think you said you have a daughter right.

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      2. See, I have never interpreted someone going silent as just a time to reflect. I get taking a “cooling off ” period if there is conflict or an argument and for some, up to a couple of days needed to recompose and reflect in that instance. Even that gets hard. As H.G. has pointed out, sometimes they go silent after you spent a wonderful, intimate time together, then blammo, they drop off with no rhyme or reason. It is beyond rude and disrespectful. It truly represents how insignificant you truly are to them.
        On my daughter’s weekends with her dad, the first year 1/2 I was pretty good at lining up plans with friends because I could not stand to be in the house alone. Sometimes I had anxiety attacks. That has subsided. I’m just use to it now. I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable with it. But her time with her dad is very valuable and we split when she was so young.

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  5. #3: What is the point of the silent hoover from a blocked number? I don’t answer those calls on my cell phone. I got a few on my cell last week that went unanswered. There was one on my landline…which I will answer (might be family)….nothing but silence. What’s the point of this?

    #4: I will speak to others about this abuse….because it is abuse. My mom had the best advice: ‘silence is an answer….give it back to him in abundance’.

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    1. The point of number 3 when there is a silent hoover is that we know how you will react to it, even if we do not see that reaction, we know how you will react because we know you.

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  6. It is cold and callous. Reading it makes me angry. I’ve been on the receiving end of the silent treatment more than once.

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  7. Wow, this just further explained the game of silence. The silence killed me back then and made me feel absolutely hopeless. Its an emotional roller coaster. Its a ride that sucks you into a deep, black hole that you can’t get out of. Never, never again.

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  8. Wow. He told me that I stole his thunder right before I married him. Wish I would have known that it was a problem. .. cause I would have ran the other way and never looked back. Oh well, at least I have the opportunity now, and only wasted 11 months with that idiot. Lol.

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  9. The silence was deafening, and yet it was the key to my understanding what he is. Never had anyone given me a silent treatment before, I didn’t understand it. So, I googled it – and almost all the search results led me to Narcissism. With this knowledge, I chose to end things with him. Thus, the silent treatment led to my freedom. I am very thankful for it.
    Also, hope I didn’t accidentally offend you with my comment on yesterday’s blog (since you didn’t publish it) That is never my intention. Your posts & books make me thirsty for more knowledge.

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  10. Dear HG,
    Thank you for providing your invaluable insights on so many aspects . I have read several of your books. Would you be amenable to an email consultation and share your expertise with me on my situation?

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  11. #2 – If you have moved into seducing someone new, do you even really want their predecessor chasing and begging after you to end the silence? At that point you have devalued, and made yourself feel disgusted for ever having cared about them in the first place. You just want their attention pining for you?
    In general, #1 thru #4, it’s like cowering in the shadows like a cockroach. And those just need to be squashed!!!
    You know how I loathe the silent treatments and being ignored H.G. You just had to end the week with this blog! Tsk, Tsk!

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      1. I guess so. You also got my attention when the Batmobile never showed up last week as promised. Deploying #3, The Silent Gesture on me? Ladies take notice. Lol

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    1. Clarence what you say is a little mean but funny about the roach 😂😂 just because my ex left from one day to another and said he needed time to think but in reality I learned yesterday he wanted to maximize pain … Forgiven!! Whatever reasons…
      I just now see it as the best that coud happen to me as I got of the see-saw..
      Looking forward to new 😃.

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      1. It’s ok Nikita. H.G. gets my sense of humor. I’m sure he’ll overlook my cockroach statement, however you all get the sentiment. Like you, I find any of the blogs about abusive silent treatments hard to process because it is so far removed on how I would handle conflict with a person close to me. So a little levity was needed. However, if I had some magic pixie dust and could turn my Narc into a cockroach for a day….hmmm where are my heavy LL Bean snow boots? One would squash a worthless cockroach into oblivion.

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  12. well it got me to chase and beg and plead. I think the longest I had waited it out was nearly 3 months, but back then I had not read H.G’s works on how to go NC and stay NC. It has been 3 weeks now since I last spoke with him, and as long as I do not contact him then nothing will happen, I know him–quite predictable. Besides this time on the rollercoaster from hell he admitted all his tactics to me like he was trying to turn me into him, and he admitted he was sleeping with a woman unprotected–I suspected he had herpes and I was right. Thank the lord I never had sex with him whew!

    I ignore (grey rock) him IF I see him, and do not contact him-easier now since I started to read H.G’s works. Thank you.

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  13. Let us traverse the concept of silence that is given here, and let us take heed in being wary of how this particular post is re- enforcing a deeply rooted and skewed belief around the power of silence.
    In part, silence is the space that simultaneously creates intimacy and healthy distance to afford the empowerment of discerning what is and what is not. Silence is the landscape created by two separate individuals, clearly creating the willed intentionality of autonomy. Where the you and I begin and end, amidst the beauty of the us. Silence is an act of reverence and in giving to ourselves this reverence, we can best attend to our self-care, which in turn provides nourishment and fertile grounds for the betterment of our relationships with others.

    We are taught from a very young age that silence is punishment, which in turn causes a great chasm in our psyche to where the excruciating experience of self loathing begins. Do not be fooled by this skewed belief, for if you do you are re- enforcing what you have been taught which may include: You are not worthy, You are not seen, You are stupid, You do not count, You exhaust and inconvenience me, You are a burden, You need to do better, You need to get out of my way, You threaten me, You embarrass me.

    The greatest threat to man is to feel himself as contained.

    In a healthy relation one uses empowerment to exercise awareness as a choice, and affecting responsibility into the relational us. One may recognize this empowering animation of intimacy through such expressions as : “ I need space to collect my thoughts “ “ I am unable to navigate through this at present” “ I am having a hard time with this” – these types of responses will always be followed with a commitment to return to the internal conflict.

    Fleeing, suppressing, annihilating the other by means of psychological and physical extinction, abandonment, drug and alcohol use are not forms of silence, they are forms of abuse, first against ones self and then perpetrated onto the other. These forms of abuse are violent, aggressive and disintegrate the power of connection, and ultimately the relation. Your choice, as an adult, to accept these acts is directly related to the degree of which you disregard yourself.

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    1. Hi Flower and Rock

      It is very true and “inspiring” what you write because many people see silence as what you say a punishment and I believe each person as individul and couple needs some moments of silence to process feelings and also as you say where the you and I begin and end. We need to be and feel ourselves to be the best for me and for others. You can also be very together in agreed silence, and its very enriching,
      But as you many say people cant stand silence..

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      1. Hello Nikita
        Thank you. We first need to bring awareness to- how we construct (relate) to ourselves, our sense of self, this of course is the work of self development and along with courage is the crux of healing.

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    2. You said it best! I’ve looked for answers as to what is,really going on with my husbands family who are stonewalling him. Thank you. You were spot on.

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  14. Flower and Rock, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and insights. Spot on! Silence can be a weapon and a trigger when we are still deficient in our relationship to ourself. Indeed it stirs up all of those very painful illusions you mention. My therapy has focused on this old and ancient programming and I’m learning awareness of these orphaned parts of myself that are triggered by silence when used as a weapon. One step further is inviting the orphan in and giving her the gift of my own presence. Silence then is Golden.

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    1. Bethany, you are welcome. Your therapeutic journey sounds powerful and meaningful to you and I commend you on your openness to share.Great imagery arises from your second last sentence, yes, the little you did an amazing job at navigating you through seas of which you held no control over. Much love and respect to you Bethany.

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      1. Flower and Rock- thank you so much for the encouragement. I feel genuine regard for our well being flowing from you – your presence and input here is the Yin to HG’s Yang. HG’s brutal truth delivered in such an animated punch is akin to a brilliant surgeon that had to break bones in order to heal them. Your therapeutic expertise offered in such a supportive and empathic message is the soothing salve that offsets HG’s bitter medicine. The powerful combination of both of your talents is astounding and all in recovery from Narcissistic abuse should be so lucky to have arrived here.

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      2. Bethany, you are most welcome. I am truly honored to be a source of support, and to be here in this space, at this time, with all that are here, including HG. Yes, the synergistic combination is powerful.

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  15. I left a 19 year relationship with an abusive narcissist last September. Your articles have really helped me make sense of it all. Thank you for what you do!

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  16. When someone loves you, he is afraid of losing you. This form of most horrible mental and emotional ABUSE caused me physical damage, I lost my period and got a lump in my throat, because your body can’t take this amount of stress for a long time without going weak. Only people that went through this can understand… Take of those pink glasses that he put on you about him, he doesn’t love you, you are not his queen, you are not the best for him… the truth is, he has no emotions, he is psycho, he had his goal, you were a game for him where he fed his ego and where he was happy only and ONLY when he was winning. I was put under this treatment when I did last thing he asked, he completely ruined my life and when there was noting else to give him, nothing else for him to fight for he put me under this punishment, just for asking him wrong question.
    You don’t need someone that deals with problems this way. This is NOT LOVE. Deal with the fact that he never loved you, that you were manipulated, and remember every day IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, because you would do anything for him, am I right? Don’t question every sentence that you ever said to him, we are all humans, there is no perfection. We react the way we react because we have emotions, that is normal.. And if you were with normal person, not mentally ill, you wouldn’t be questioning yourself because you would discuss things, you would solve problems and issues with conversations, not with abuse.

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    1. Wow! That just took me back to my state last summer after a final breaking point and right before I found H.G. in August. The body can only absorb so much stress with all that toxicity that will eventually manifest it in some way.

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  17. So dear Narc,

    Please tell me the strategy of banning me for 6 months? I am not allowed to be around him. When I show good behavior (for I dared to question his behavior towards me on social media) then I may return after 6 months. I was his major money earner. I can’t believe he’d cut off his finances. But yet he did and actually expected me to return in 6 months (as long as I kept silent and was a good sheep). Please enlighten me on this thinking.

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    1. Hello Renee, this is a silent treatment which is designed to allow him to extract fuel from you, exert control over you (you can come back in 6 months) and so he can pursue other targets. He regards himself as a king who has banished you from his court for six months and if he deems you worthy enough you will be welcome back.

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  18. After I broke up with my narc of 9 years, he used the silent treatment on me. At that point I begged and pleaded. I wanted him to stop trwatinf me badly, and mean it for a change. During this, something happened. It was as if I left my body and stood next to me, observing myself.
    Analysing this over the next couple of days, I couldn’t help think of myself as a patethic shell of a woman. I never wanted to be that woman again, and I started to withdraw myself.
    A couple of weeks later I read an article about narcissism. And another, and another. That really hit home, and I withdrew myself faster. He tried the silent treatment some more, followed by being Prince charming, followed by acting hurt and/or angry that I wasn’t giving him attention (because he wasn’t fooling me with his act), followed by some more silent treatment. He did this again and again over the course of 3-4 months.
    Meanwhile, I started to realise how awesome my life could be without him.
    Two months ago, he exploded. Fortunately he did so in writing, and I saved everything. After that, there has been little contact.
    And you know what? My life IS awesome without him! Once I found out what he is, his silence was a relief, more than anything else.

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    1. Hello Kay, I understand that this out of body experience that you describe is a way of protecting yourself from the trauma that you are enduring. It is as if you are no longer there, a defence mechanism to separate you from the reality of what is happening. Did you realise it was narcissism that you were dealing with or did you (more likely I suspect) come across an article and realise this was what you were dealing with? He is probably locked into a different source of fuel after his outburst but he will look for an opportunity to come after you again if it is presented.

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      1. Hello,

        At that time, I didn’t know what narcissism was. I came across an article about it 6 or 7 weeks later. It really hit home. The relationship had been bad for a few years and it has been getting worse in the 2 years previously.

        I broke it off because he has been having an affair for 3 months, and he kept assuring me it was over. And I kept finding out. But he assured me he hated her and this was a “mid-life crisis”. I didn’t want to give up too easily, since we have children together.

        Just before I learned about narcissism, there might have been a chance that I wanted to “start over” with him because of the children. That is, if he would show me I could trust him by cutting it off with the other woman.

        Well, once I read that article, and a couple of more that same evening. And I joined a survivor’s group.
        That’s when I realised it would be futile to give him another chance. I can’t even believe I have him 4 chances before that.

        He’s with her now. I know this. And I don’t care anymore. I haven’t cared for a while now. He still tries to rattle my cage. Currently he’s trying to accomplish this with annoutrageous custody battle. It’s all there: the meaningless accusations, the smear campaign, the works.

        Fortunately for me, he has more and more trouble to hide his true identity. Once he starts feeling comfortable somewhere, or with someone, fits of rage occur. Several people have witnessed this. He’s no longer welcome as a volunteer at the school because of this. And dozens of neighbours and their children were present when he yelled “slut” at me for having male friends. My immediate neighbours have heard him raging at me and our children on numerous occasions. Our “couples therapist” has seen his true identity shine through just a little when he almost flew into a rage when she agreed with me on something.

        So he can’t touch me. He based his claims on what he thinks is true, while I have clear proof that his accusations are false, and mine aren’t.

        Knowing what he is has been a tremendous help. It has helped me stay balanced. It has helped me help the children. It has helped me stay sane through everything. I’m implementing “No contact” for the most part. He lives close, so we run into him from time to time. During those times, and when he asks me something in WhatsApp, I implement “Gray Rock”. I’m often tempted to “show” him how great my life is, but then I remember that would only give him fuel.

        I follow a number of pages about narcissism and read about it daily to remind me to never forget.

        If he comes back for me, I’m prepared. Although I hope he doesn’t. He’s already working on making his new supply dependant on him. I suspect she is pregnant, so there’s that. Let him focus on her.

        And I would feel bad for her, but since she used to be my best friend, she should know what he’s like. She’s been warned. But she already lets him treat her like crap.

        Life is awesome.

        Thank you for this page!

        This

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