The main tool that an abuser uses to locate a potential victim is sometimes called cold empathy. This is not the empathy associated with actual feeling, caring and being able to associate one’s self with others’ needs. This kind of empathy is all about gathering any and all necessary information the abuser needs to lure in a potential victim and subseqently how best to control them.
Cold empathy is a skill used by abusers to identify someone who will make a “suitable” target for their abuse and can provide the abuser with whatever it is they want from their potential victim. Remember, abusers need victims to feel complete, important and vindicated. They use cold empathy to study their target, learn everything they can about them: weaknesses, strengths, number of close friends, their relationships with family, the breadth of their social circle.
Once they’ve gathered enough information they present themselves to the potential victim in the most positive, appealing, and disarming way possible. Their main initial goal is to appear ideal in every way, to seem to be able to fullfill every need the potential victim may have, and to make themselves indispensable to the point where the victim relies on them. Once the victim is invested, the abuser begins the process of abuse, beginning with removing the victim’s autonomy and isolating them. All the while using the information they gathered before to their advantage, preying on the victim’s insecurities and doubts, taking advantage of the victim’s trust and false perception of them.