Stonewalling consists of:

  1. Refusal to negotiate a conflict in good faith
  2. Refusal to discuss honestly one’s motivations
  3. Refusal to listen to another point of view with openness
  4. Refusal to compromise
  5. Refusal to collaborate
  6. Refusal to support the other person’s plans
  7. Refusal to accept influence

Stonewalling is a widely-used strategy in most unsatisfying relationships. Stonewalling alone without any other more coercive tactics probably does not limit the partner so much that a relationship can be termed abusive. That is because someone on the receiving side of stone-walling still has options to end the relationship, or get needs met elsewhere. In a business relationship, stonewalling makes no sense because the other party would just take their business elsewhere.

A clear and definitie "no" may be part of non-cooperation but it is not stonewalling. Part of the deliberate intention of stonewalling is to keep the survivor 'on the hook' and not really able to pursue alternatives because the issue is still 'open' in some technical sense.

However, in an abusive relationship, isolation and threats are usually present, and the survivor has no safe options to pursue needs except through the primary aggressor. Most ‘nagging’ is usually a survivors attempt to overcome stonewalling. In an abusive relationship, stonewalling may become a fundamental tactic, because it is a way to apply pressure that seemingly can’t be confronted, because it is exactly “not doing anything.”

Stonewalling benefits from male privilege, because an uncooperative man will usually still get taken care of by a female partner anyway. A female partner that stops housework or other care for the primary aggressor in response to stonewalling may incorrectly be viewed as “starting something.”

Sometimes, survivors will avoid discussing a primary aggressor's demand because they are attempting to put together an indirect "no" where a direct "no" is not safe. This is not stonewalling, especially if there is cooperation (or submission) overall. Stonewalling is a complete pattern of non-communication and non-cooperation that only works from a position of power.