A verbal abuser have a nagging urge to find a victim to abuse. This is why when one victim is no longer taking the verbal abuse, because they refuse to do so any more, they moved, or they have grown, the abuser has to find another victim. So they start screening. What do they look for?
I am not a psychiatrist, but I think what they need is a profile that triggers the abusive behavior. They need to spot weakness that they can “pick” on. Here are a couple of scenarios that I have seen from real life, and they are worth paying attention to, as they are unfortunately common but some people do not notice them.
A verbal abuser first starts experimenting with a potential victim, to see how much verbal abuse they are willing to take. This is why sometimes we need to be less tolerant rather than more tolerant, especially when it comes to taking negative messages from others.
Here is an example of everyday verbal abuse situations that most of us tolerate, and abusers con us with: “Can I tell you something and without you getting hurt by it?” they expect you to say “sure.” You have just given them a Cart Blanche to abuse you. Instead of saying “sure,” you might want to consider saying “thanks, but no thanks.” If the abuser thinks the statement is hurtful, probably it is. If you let them, they can say anything they want and they usually get away with it. If you get angry they say “I told you that you might get angry.” If you do not, then they know they threw their poison on you, which strangely enough gives them some kind of temporary relief of their own poor self image.Not everybody who uses this statement is an abuser, but still one has to be careful of consistent use to hurt others.
This happens also in business. There are so many forms of it in business, but here is a common example. Some, to show respect for the boss at work, they belittle themselves with body gestures or things they say about themselves. So, they put their shoulders down, in a very appeasing body posture and start their conversations with the boss or client with long apologetic remarks: “I am so sorry to bother you with my silly issues but if you kind find out of kindness a minute for me?” I mean such “spineless,” so to speak, statements and behavior tell the boss “I am an easy prey to become a doormat for your abusive behavior. Low self esteem here…feel free to abuse.” There is a big difference between being respectful and being submissive. It shows from the way one carries self.
Do not misinterpret my words as encouraging cruelness or to be against kindness and sensitivity. To the contrary, I think the strongest personalities out there are the kind ones, and the sensitive ones are the creative ones, given they have a good self image.
A kind person with a good self image might be mistaken for a good victim for abuse. But abusers find and usually quickly that they better stay away. They benefit from low tolerance to intentional negativity, and they steer away from it, confront it. Remember there is room for finesse, strategy, and tactical maneuvers in all of this.
Even if self image is shaken a bit, one does not have to succumb to verbal abuse. There are things that you can do to stop it. Here are a couple of YouTube videos that I have done previously on the subject. How to Deal with Difficult People and How to Deal with Cunning Deceitful Manipulators.