You may think that verbal abuse is just being yelled at, but it's actually characterized by a range of different behaviors. In addition to yelling, MacDermott cites name-calling, threats of harm to you or someone you care about, or gaslighting
the abuse doesn't fit in with their fantasy, they minimize it and make excuses for their partner, telling themselves that they didn't mean it, were just really upset, or are only going through a phase.
It's easy to assume that if you were verbally abused, you'd realize it. But both Coughlin and MacDermott agree that people could have been the victims of verbal abuse in childhood and have no awareness of it.
Your relationship with your caregiver as a child is what forms your blueprint for how to have relationships with other people as you go through the rest of your life," MacDermott explains.
Because verbal abuse can cause you to really believe negative things about yourself and other people, Coughlin says, it can impact any element of your life, from your ability to form relationships and your ability to work effectively to your ability to see yourself as having any sort of success.
Being raised in an environment where a caregiver wasn't able to modulate their emotions, and therefore unable to teach their child to do so, could result in someone becoming verbally abusive later in life because they don't know how to regulate their own emotions, Coughlin explains.
The ongoing abuse can be especially harmful because the person had already gone through it when younger, so it's a sensitive spot, MacDermott explains
It can be tempting to write the abuser off as a terrible person, but they likely have a deeper problem that is causing them to act out in this way, like depression, substance abuse, or mental health issues, says MacDermott.
Although the effects of verbal abuse can be dire, its victims aren't doomed to a lifetime of repeating these patterns.
A person on the spectrum can get caught in a loop of repeating one word or phrase. Pay attention to your own syntax and see if this symptom applies to you.