Interesting. The text surrounding the targets seems to suggest otherwise.
Both targets are described as ready to defend themselves from your attacks. When attacking the target sometimes "slips free", "evades your attack", "dodges your attack" and the like. This gives me the impression that the targets are actively moving and avoiding your attacks. I always figured they were kind of like animated crash-test-dummies or something.
I have also never seen the target's health change when issuing "ht softie" though the descriptions of attacks seem positive and feature you landing blows. Of course, this might be due to the fact that none of my characters have ever really gained any significant level of combat prowess.
Not disputing what you say bean_dip. Just pointing out that the descriptions I have witnessed in the game make it easy for one to get the wrong idea.