Metaphors can help us to understand the deeper dynamics:
A bully is like a mosquito
Like mosquitoes bullies sense out their targets, choose one and 'feed off' it. After a few days (for bullies it may be longer), they need to feed again. Another victim will be found to satisfy a bully's insecurities.
A bully is like a praying mantis
A praying mantis stalks its victim, often spying on it before attacking. Likewise bullies watch and monitor potential victims, testing them to see how they react. The praying mantis seizes its prey in a vice-like grip and eats it alive (it may feel like that to a workplace victim too). Once bullying begins the victim becomes trapped. Often support, from colleagues and friends, is needed for the victim to stand up and challenge the bully or escape from the situation. However work colleagues and managers may turn a 'blind eye'. (According to superstition the praying mantis creates blindness in others). Victims become socially isolated and more vulnerable unless changes are made to the interpersonal relationships and group dynamics.
A bully is like an addict
Bullying in the workplace is like an addiction. The underlying cravings are similar to those of other addictions i.e. the needs are insatiable. Bullies are rarely satisfied with one victim. Many are serial bullies. They use and abuse victims and when they are of no further use to them dispose of them and hunt out others to feed their habits.
Bullying is like a cancer in an organisation
Cancer cells constantly split. Likewise within the psyche of the bully there is splitting of the world into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. They think of themselves as being good and project their inner feelings of badness on to others. They then perceive the other person, the potential victim, as being bad, a failure, unreliable etc etc. This perception becomes fixed and difficult to change.
Cancer cells don’t mature. Likewise bullies stay in an immature stage of development. They are unable to find their ‘true’ selves (see definitions).
There is something in cancer cells which overrides the normal signalling system. Likewise a bully continues to bully irrespective of the damage he/she is doing. Bullying is difficult to stop once it has become established.
Cancer cells don’t stick together. Employees within bullying scenarios become increasingly isolated from each other.