Coercive control - The Silent treatment as tactic after divorce.

It's been very frustrating trying to raise kids and navigate their emotional health when you have no constructive communication with the other parent. There can be many different reasons for this lack of communication. But one that I have experience with, is control. Silence is a weapon of control. It's sending a message, you don't matter. Whatever you have to say is meaningless Your so crazy I can't even talk to you. But when this happens, realize that what they think doesn't matter. You have been conditioned to try and please them, to try and reason, but this is the trap. Don't take the bait.



This is known as the silent treatment, and it's designed to frustrate and further abuse you. It's purpose is to hurt and punish you. It also gives the abuser the ability to point at you at say, look she just won't leave me alone. It makes him look more powerful to who ever might be in his life, makes him look in demand.


The reasons for you trying to contact that person will be manipulated and it will become about your desperation and neediness. In my case I was trying to reach out about my children and how they were being impacted by certain events. I was met with all the usual, completely ignoring my messages, blocking me, telling others I was just freaking out over his new living situation. I was desperate and increased my efforts, but this only succeed in making me look more crazy. But the fact was, both the children were emotionally distraught, and needed both their parents. He did the same thing to the mother of his first child. She was calling regarding her child's well-being and he said it was that she couldn't let him go, and pointed at it as an example of how she wouldn't leave him alone. At the time, I totally bought into this mindset. Now that I myself am a victim of this behaviour I see her actions completely differently. Now I understand what was really happening, and trap we fall into when we think we can be rational with an abuser.


In my case, eventually my concerns became reality. The children need some pretty substantial support and I was left completely on my on to deal with it. They became estranged from their father, and dealing with their emotional wellbeing was more difficult and less effective due to his lack of involvement. They also were very angry, and would lash out at me in their frustration.


I have no idea about what he might be telling others about this state of affairs. If history is a good guide, no doubt I am keeping the children from him. Turning them against him. There is a good chance he will continue the same type of messaging he has always used and for him the dynamics will remain the same. In all likelihood, he will continue to smear my name. " That Carolynne she was such a problem." the facts of the issue will continued to be ignored. I doubt that has changed, or I would have received an apology by now and seen some sort of effort to try and work together to help the children through their situations. There has been none of that, it all the same thing there has always been. But truly, I don't actually know, and it doesn't matter. I am finally at a stage where I can see how my automated reactions kept me engaged in this toxic pattern, and through recognizing it, I can release myself from that prison. I think that is one of the traits that emerges when you do not take the time to heal. You remain reactive years after the fact and bitterness sets in. That is not how I want to live my life.


It's important to distance yourself and realize that that pattern is a continuation of the abuse that existed prior to the divorce. He is still trying to maintain control and be the "big man" using the weapons he still has available to him. The abuse does not stop after the divorce it just changes forms. It's a trap to get pulled into this game. Recognize that behaviour for what it is, its selfish and abusive. He will not suddenly change and become someone you can work with, he used control to get his way in the past and he will continue to do so.


You can trust that children will see through it. It is not constructive, or advisable to try to show them what is going on. They will see it for themselves, and it's far better if they come to their own conclusions. I have learned children are very resilient and if you give them all the love and support you can muster, be consistent for them, that will be enough. And it's literally all you can do. But you can be reassured, one person can make a difference. And while it is certainly not ideal, it is possible.


It's easy to get caught up in the unfairness and the anger of the situation. But that is the point, it is a control tactic that is meant to upset you, and it will do nothing to help achieve the intended goal, which is to help your children. Do not allow this to destabilize you, and instead recognize it for what it is, another abuse tactic. If anything this is one that demonstrates the true weakness of the abuser, that they are unable to put the children first, and instead focus on what bolster their weak egos. Do not get baited in trying to be understood, or to try and get anyone to see what is happening, you will never win that battle. In the end, people have to live with themselves, and they have to live with the consequences of their actions.


After years of being subject to various forms of psychological abuse, you will be more vulnerable. There will be a natural pull to engage, it is a familiar pattern. You reaction will likely still be automatic. This is the dance you have been losing for years. Nothing you do will make a difference, nothing you say can change anything. Its time to change the pattern. It is important to see it for what it is, and that is really about their weakness. The only thing you can do in this situation is keep your eye on the main goal and keep working towards being a stable consistent parent for your children.


Recognize that in this situation, you have won. If it has come to the point the only weapon they have left is stonewalling and the silent treatment, you are free. Instead of being frustrated by it, celebrate it. They have shut off the manipulation and coercion. Instead, focus on building a positive supportive community. Cut yourself off from the toxic systems that perpetuated this abuse, and build a new healthy world. When you feel the pull to explain yourself and try to get others to see the truth, recognize that is fruitless. People will believe what they want. Allowing yourself to effected by the silent treatment just gives him the power he is craving. See it for what it is, his weakness and his immaturity.


Model for your children healthy and productive communication. Build a healthy world for them, it takes time and you can expect a very rocky road to get there. But in the end it is worth it. I never thought my children would adapt. I had believed that what was happening was going to damage them for ever. But I managed the only thing I could manage and that was me, I gave them all I could give which is my unconditional support. I can say it has paid off. Also, remember what is most important. Their emotional health. While it might be gratifying to see that relationship fall apart after all the shitty thing that person has done, you cannot change who their father is, all you can do is be their for the kids. Foster hope and encouragement that they might be able to have a positive relationship with that parent. But be ready to pick up the pieces. That is one aspect of their life that is completely out of your control.


The most important thing is you can withdraw yourself from the power and control game.





23 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All