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Partner won’t seek help with mental illness

Judy H
Community Member

Needing some support badly!

Ive been with my partner for 9 years. In the beginning, he was charming. We were very happy & so much in love. But through the years, there would be episodes of complete silence from him. He would shut me out emotionally and for days not talk to me.
I took the immature path of begging him to talk to me and tell me what was wrong, but he would say he “needed to think about things.”

Eventually, he would snap out of this and go back to his charming and beautiful self. If I brought up the subject of this “silent treatment “, he would make it clear he didn’t want to talk about it, so we went on with life.

However, things have now escalated to the point that he continues to go through days of “silent treatment” towards me, followed by days of verbal abuse towards me. He tells me that I’m the problem & I’m the cause of all his troubles. He tells me I’ve cheated on him, hacked his MyGov account, changed him to behave in this way. This pattern occurs 2-3 times a year, getting worse with each episode.
when things do calm down, he is back to his old pleasant self.

I try acknowledging the previous behaviour, but he changes the subject and showers with me love & attention to distract me from going any further with the conversation. Things never get addressed & we go through this cycles.

This latest episode that we are in now has been horrid. He’s telling me I have to leave, threatening me with comments like “you’ll be getting a letter from my solicitor to get you out”, “I don’t believe you - I want to see a “Stat Dec”, etc, etc.

I am at my wits end. I feel worthless and helpless. This has been the worse episode. When I tell him not to speak to me that way, he tells me it’s all my fault & ive turned him into this person.

I know what I see now is a totally different person to who he is. Each of the personalities are completely different. I know this ugly person is not my partner & it’s so scary to see him like this.

ive told him I believe there’s a problem & how I would support him through thick or thin. But, this makes him more angry & I cop further abuse. It’s reflected to be me with the problems . I’m anxious all the time & not thinking straight.

I’m currently in the spare room; I find myself going to bed as soon as I get home from work, just to avoid another onslaught of abuse. If I do approach him & quietly ask to talk about things, I’m the one who ends up crying & saying sorry.

please advise as I don’t know what to do anymore

8 Replies 8

Hi Judy,

This sounds incredibly difficult, and we’re so glad you cold share this here. It’s not something you should have to deal with on your own, so we’re really glad you could come to the forums. Thank you so much for your openness and strength in sharing this here, we know that it can be really difficult to take that step.

Judy, you are deserving of respect, and no one should treat you with disrespect or abuse. We think it’s really important to reach out to 1800 Respect to discuss how the relationship is affecting you, on 1800 737 732. They’re kind, understanding and non-judgmental, and can talk things through with you any time. You could also talk to Relationships Australia about this on 1300 364 277. Some of the information on their website might be useful, such as this page which talks about the cyclical nature of abuse in some relationships

We would strongly encourage you to call our counsellors on 1300 22 4636. We can help 24 hours a day, seven days a week with counselling support, information and referrals. Your partner is also more than welcome to call us on 1300 22 46 36. We are here for you both.

If you think it would be helpful, you can also suggest that your partner calls Mensline on 1300 78 99 78 to discuss with them their mental health.

Thank you again for your courage and strength in sharing your story. If you’d like to share a bit more here about how you’ve been feeling, our kind community will be here to offer their support and understanding.  

Kind regards,

Sophie M

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Sophie- It seems the situation is a little beyond your control. Remember not to blame yourself and look after your own mental health, you are in an extremely emotionally draining situation and there is only so much you can do. It's important for you to find a professional to talk to, who can help you with your situations and advise on how best to get your partner to seek help.

Maybe it would be worth look at couples therapy? He might be more open to that idea. And if not, then maybe it would be good to distance yourself from this relationship in the future, after your partner has gotten help if it is still impacting your mental health negatively to the same extent.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Judy,

I'm so sorry for what you are going through, it sounds like you are living in a very difficult and stressful situation.

I understand there are two sides to your partner, one that is loving and attentive and the other that is abusive. I do understand that you want to help him because you love him and this is what makes it hard. Unfortunately your story is common, his back and forth behaviour is a pattern and it is traumatising to live with.

I just wanted to chat a bit about whether you have considered your own needs much through all of this. It is common that in this scenario that all of our attention goes on our partners and helping them, we forget about ourselves. Do you want to chat a bit more about this?

How are things going today?

Here to talk.


Hi Pumps

thankyou for your caring response. It means a lot!

I recall early in our relationship, he mentioned he was seeing a psychologist for “disassociate disorder”. I didn’t think much of it at the time, as there was nothing to worry about. He appeared balanced & attentive. We had our ups & downs like any couple, but his reactions to my mistakes, was extremely disproportionate to what I had done “wrong”.

But, since this latest episode, I’ve been googling my heart out about the disorder. He shows the classic symptoms- detachment, lack of ability to engage deeply at an emotional level, transfer of anger towards me. The worst part of this, is the deafening silences, which would go on for days.

The sadest part about this , is that he won’t get help. In his eyes, I’m the problem and the relationship is over.

His verbal abuse last night was atrocious- I ended up packing a bag & leaving. I’m so sad about this! When he’s “normal”, he is the most caring, gentle & kind person”. I really loved him & I know he loved me.

Sorry for the ramble- my head & heart are rubble at the moment & I’m not travelling too well.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello. Sorry to hear that your husband speaks to you that way. It is undeserved. I don't presume to know how you present these issues with him. I just remember what my psychologist said to me in relation to speaking with my wife. It was more what I said would get her on the defensive. And so with her help I was able to navigate that path. I think others here have suggested couple therapy and your partner would have to be willing to do that as well.

Of course you could also speak with a counsellor or similar by yourself. Have you raised this issue with family or friends?

To see the change you are seeing would be distressing. I hope you might come back and write. I found writing here and seeing the responses was helpful.

Listening to you.

Hi Judy H,

I'm really sorry to hear what you are going through. I can imagine the constant tension in the house especially with the silent treatment as well.

I understand what its like to know who someone is beyond their illness and feel sad that they aren't getting the help they need. It's heartbreaking and when they play such a fundamental part of your life it really rips everything apart so I send you all my love.

My father has borderline personality disorder and he too was someone who at is core is loving but unfortunately would fly into tantrums and become abusive if I didn't do what he wanted me too. He also thought I - and my mother - were the problem.

It is hard when you love someone who doesn't have any self-awareness because without that there isn't really room for change unless one day they start to realise themselves. But we cant force them to reach that point.

Although very distressing, I am glad you were able to be brave and leave last night. Its so hard walking out, its so tiring and you have to be very resilient to be able to do that.

I am also glad you understand that his reactions are not normal and that it really isn't your fault.

How are you coping with the sadness at the moment?

I hope you had somewhere safe to go, are you planning on staying there a while? Might be good to have some space and collect your thoughts. Its a lot to take in for you in a short space of time.

Here to chat


Community Member

Hi Judy H

Packing up your bags and leaving is sometimes the only option.

If the other person won't seek help, it's not fair to sacrifice your health, happiness and safety for their lack of initiative, as harsh as that may sound. The silent treatment is a particularly nasty thing to experience. I was in a 5 1/2 year relationship with someone who displayed many traits of NPD.

I experienced the verbal abuse a few times; once I asserted that boundary, silent treatment was the next tactic used.

I'm only a month or so out of the relationship but I already feel better. It's a roller-coaster. Even though I shouldn't miss her- I still do. I also experience feelings of guilt, feeling like I'm the one the failed. As time passes they are fading.

If you're not seeing a counsellor or therapist I would recommended it - therapy has been a tremendous support to me in navigating this situation.

Wishing you all the best


Couldnt agree more with Batticus about seeking therapy for yourself, Sounds like your partner has some real issues that only a professional can diagnose. It could be a mental health condition or a learned trait like Narcissism. Whatever, you need to start putting yourself first. I have nearly reached one year of silent treatment from my wife. I use to scoff when friends said their partner didnt speak to them for a week and say "How could they do that", now that its my turn I have learned to live in a house of silence and actually my mind is slowly getting better. I owe a lot to my therapist who helped me through the tough stages. I sincerely hope you are OK and get the help you deserve.