It is not always possible for victims of abuse to go no contact with their abuser. One of the most common reasons why is because they still live with their abuser which means they’re unable to cut off all forms of communication with them. It’s not the end of the world, it just means that they have to learn how to go no contact when you still live together. 

To go no contact when you still live together you have to redefine what “going no contact” means. You can’t cut off all forms of communication with the abuser because you still live together but you can set very firm boundaries that prohibit their abuse from affecting your emotional stability. 

Our article What Are Some Boundaries You Can Set With a Narcissist will help you create a solid foundation of healthy boundaries against a variety of different abusive personalities, not just narcissistic ones, but there’s an advanced boundary that you can use to go no contact when you still live together, the gray rock method.

a woman getting ready to use the grey rock method

How to Use the Gray Rock Method to Go No Contact When You Still Live Together

Abusers use the validation, admiration, and reassurance of others to construct a sense of self and to manage their suppressed negative emotions. The validation, admiration, and reassurance of others is a necessity for the well-being of an abuser. 

The gray method is designed to significantly reduce the amount of validation, admiration, and reassurance that victims of abuse provide their abuser. 

The Gray Rock Method

When someone refuses to have significant conversations with the abuser in their life, it’s called the gray rock method. 

This means that when conversing with their abuser, they’ll have extremely neutral emotions, they won’t try to explain themselves, they won’t try to defend themselves, they won’t engage in any type of arguments or confrontations, they’ll just remain a boring gray rock. 

For example, imagine that the abuser in your life had a horrible day at work and came home furious. They are taking every single vulnerability and insecurity they know about you and using them to devalue, degrade, invalidate, and dehumanize you.

Instead of trying to defend or explain yourself, you’d remain cool, calm, and collected and refuse to engage in the conversation in a meaningful way.

a woman using the grey rock method on her narcissistic boyfriend

With that being said, the things that an abuser will say that warrants the usage of the gray rock method are hurtful so it is important to remember that this technique isn’t suggesting that you should bottle up all of your emotions and forget about it. 

It is suggesting that you should refuse to give your abuser the satisfaction of your validation, admiration, and reassurance by showing them that they have power and control over you. 

Once you’re in a safe place, and out of earshot of the abuser, feel free to express yourself however you want. But to successfully use the gray rock method, you have to refuse to let your abuser have access to your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs. 

The gray rock method symbolizes self-growth because by using it, victims of abuse are showing that they have a comprehensive grasp of the abuse they’re experiencing. 

This is so important to understand because sometimes victims of abuse accidentally use the gray rock method because they feel helpless or hopeless in the relationship. 

After months, years, and even decades of being invalidated, devalued, and dehumanized, this is a very common occurrence but technically it is not the gray rock method, a sense of helplessness or hopelessness. 

To use the gray rock method one must make a conscious decision to use it if they want to reap the rewards of its power. 

a man going no contact with his abuser

Making a decision to use the gray rock method shows that the victim of abuse has acknowledged that what they’re experiencing is abuse and  understands how important validation, admiration, and reassurance is to the abuser. 

Having a comprehensive grasp of the importance of the gray rock method lays a foundation from which victims of abuse can launch a successful healing journey. 

What Should Expect When Going No Contact When You Still Live Together?

Healthy boundaries that hinder an abuser’s pursuit of validation, admiration, and reassurance are always going to be disregarded by the abuser. If you remain adamant about the boundary, they will try to bully you with fear, “empathy”, guilt, and/or shame into abandoning the boundary you’ve set. 

We covered six different forms of abuse that can be expected after setting a boundary with an abuser in our article What Happens When You Set a Boundary With a Narcissist but in this article we want to focus on baiting, narcissistic rage, and intermittent reinforcement.

The following two sections are going to focus on narcissism, even though not all abusers are narcissists, because the truth is that all abusers display narcissistic behavior patterns. By having a comprehensive grasp of narcissism you put yourself in a much better position to protect yourself from a variety of different types of abuse.

Baiting and Narcissistic Rage

It’s believed by many qualified professionals that narcissists are created by an unhealthy/abusive upbringing with unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers and we created a complete guide to all of the different theories pertaining to the origin or narcissism in our article How Are Narcissists Made.

However, the most important piece of information that you need to have to understand the motivation behind baiting and narcissistic rage is that the unhealthy/abusive upbringing that narcissists experience leaves them incapable of conceptualizing a realistic sense of self and incapable of regulating their own emotions. 

a narcissist going crazy

The reason being that the level of neglect that a narcissist experiences in their childhood teaches them that their true identity isn’t good enough to be acknowledged, loved, and accepted by others and because of this they create a falsified identity to accumulate the validation, admiration, and reassurance that their primary caregivers couldn’t give them.

Unfortunately, to build this falsified identity a narcissist will rely on their perception of what society values most but the emotional immaturity they’ve developed from their unhealthy/abusive upbringing renders them incapable of looking past society’s superficial exterior.

So, when building their falsified identity, they gravitate towards the most materialistic, superficial, and trivial aspects of life.

What this does is it creates an individual with a deeply rooted emotional inadequacy, internalized anger and aggression, and a very fragile sense of self which is why narcissists are dependent on the validation, admiration, and reassurance of others. 

When a narcissist doesn’t get enough validation, admiration, and reassurance, they’ll use baiting and narcissistic rage to fulfill their insecure needs. 

When an abuser uses their victim’s vulnerabilities and insecurities to devalue, invalidate, dehumanize, and “bait” them into a confrontation or argument it is called baiting. 

When an abuser experiences something that contradicts their falsified identity and triggers their suppressed negative emotions causing them to either clam up and go into a silent treatment or explode into a terrifying rage, it is called narcissistic rage. 

Suggested Reading: What Happens During Narcissistic Rage, 15 of the Best Examples of Narcissistic Rage.

An abuser’s reactions to the gray rock method, or any other type of boundary, should serve as a reminder to victims of abuse that the abuser in their life is dangerous and unstable. With the guidance of a qualified professional, they should strive to attain a happy and healthy life and refuse to be bullied into a submissive silence. 

Insecurities and Vulnerabilities Being Triggered

We touched on this earlier in the article but when using the gray rock method you must hide all emotions, feelings, needs, and thoughts from the abuser if you want to protect your emotional stability but let’s clarify exactly what that means.

Hiding all emotions, feelings, needs, and thoughts from the abuser means at all times, not just with the abuser. For example, it would be a horrible idea to let your abuser see you be warm and happy towards friends but distant and cold with them.

This doesn’t mean that you have to gray rock your friends and family too, it just means that you have to be cautious when it comes to what your abuser sees.

The reason being is that they aren’t stupid, they are going to realize that you’re not engaging with them on the same level as you once did. This is going to trigger a lot of their deeply rooted insecurities and vulnerabilities so it’s very common for them to accuse you of things that revolve around an abuser’s fear of abandonment like cheating.

a narcissist accusing his wife of cheating

With the gray rock method, consistency is key to remaining both emotionally and physically safe.

You should also expect your insecurities and vulnerabilities to be triggered as well. You see, the point of the gray rock method is to become so “boring” that the abuser discards you and goes to find another source of validation and admiration.

They have no problem ensuring that you know that they are searching for someone else either.

In a romantic relationship, this could manifest in the form of dating apps, inappropriate phone calls in front of you, coming home late and so on. In a family setting, this often manifests in the form of the abuser playing favorites through the scapegoat and golden child.

Nevertheless, you have to remain cool, calm, and collected to ensure that you don’t try to engage with them even though it hurts. Experiencing the discarding phase because you’re not a source of validation, admiration, and reassurance anymore is going to hurt a lot less than being stuck in the abuse cycle indefinitely.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

When used correctly, the gray rock method is a fantastic technique that you can use to set very firm boundaries that prohibit your abuser from affecting your emotional stability. In our article Living With a Narcissist When Leaving Isn’t an Option there’s a lot more information that can help those who are currently stuck with their abuser but you can never go wrong with seeking out the help of a qualified professional.

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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References

Ornstein, Paul H. “Thoughts on narcissism and narcissistic rage.” The search for the self. Routledge, 2018. 615-658.