I used to believe that verbal aggression on its own is a minor issue and that, while insults, contemptuous language, unwelcome sexual advances and the likes are far from praiseworthy, they are nevertheless hardly harmful unless accompanied by more nefarious activities like attempting to kick a person from their community or severe harassment for one reason:
Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.
What is called verbal abuse is usually 'abusers' sending some messages to the 'abused ones'. But this seems to me to be an act intrinsic to the 'abusers'. Other people can hardly be stopped from sending messages and messages themselves aren't hurtful. Messages can only hurtful when they reach those they are intended to reach - the 'abused ones'. But then, unlike with sticks and stones, with words the addressees have the choice: to accept the message or to drop it. It seems to me to turn out that in order to become a victim of a verbal abuse, the addressee of such words must allow the 'abuser' to hurt them!
Yet, nowadays, we see the general consensus is opposite. We see the escalating trend to weed out any and all examples of even very minor negativity or aggression in words. Those are deemed unacceptable, addressees of such messages may be called 'victims', and telling people to 'grow a thicker skin' is explicitly declared a non-solution to the problem. Examples of this are many: StackExchange's new Code of Conduct, strict rules of communication Riot Games is trying to enforce in League of Legends, punishing people for jokes, firing employees for not being nice enough to their colleagues, etc etc.
My thinking used to be that this actually hurts, instead of protecting, the addressees of such forbidden messages. If such messages are treated as 'big deal', if growing a thicker skin is not to be advised, if, having received such messages, the correct action to take is deemed to be to report the offender to whoever is in charge of the community, if, as psychologists want, not attempting to stop receiving these messages is not respecting oneself enough… Then, by acting this way, the receivers of verbal abuse are essentially giving the abusers the power to hurt them - and this is a lot of power to place in improper hands.
What is the basis of this approach and why does it seem to be the general consensus?