The victim so badly wants to make sense of the behavior that he or she doesn’t put an end to it, instead continuing to search for explanations of what could have caused the abuser to treat him or her that way. The victim thinks that perhaps something about his or her behavior made it the case that they deserved to be treated badly.

Because the victim does not yet fully grasp the idea of verbal abuse—abuse at a purely verbal or mental level—he or she thinks that the abuser’s maltreatment must have a rational explanation.

So, the victim confronts the behavior, not the way he or she ought to confront this behavior, but the way he or she ought to confront rational behavior. The victim asks for an explanation, asks for examples of the generalizations made by the abuser, and asks the abuser to make sense of the abuse.

But the victim is losing. Abusers—verbal, and emotional abusers included—do not act rationally. Asking them for a reason or trying to reason with them is pointless. They have no good reasons for behaving the way they do. They will respond with more abuse.

You cannot reason with an abuser.

Read more from Professor Berit at psychology today. why-you-can-t-reason-verbally-abusive-partner