Types of violence

Violence is all behaviors and situations that threaten the physical, psychological or moral integrity of people.

Behaviors associated with the use of violence can originate through learning, imitation or deliberately, and can be committed against an individual or group of people.

What is violence?

For the World Health Organization, violence involves the use of physical force not only against others, but against the person himself, and can have consequences such as trauma, psychological damage or death.

Although there is no single consensus to classify the types of violence that exist, it is possible to make general classifications based on the author of the aggression, the nature of the violent act and the environment in which it is carried out.

Types of violence according to the aggressor

There are three types of violence according to the perpetrator:

Self-inflicted violence

They are behaviors or acts that an individual exercises against himself, with the intention of causing physical, psychological and even death.

In self-inflicted violence, several triggers may be present, such as emotional disorders, trauma, depression, or the individual may be the victim of other types of violence that induce this behavior.

Self-harm or suicide are examples of self-inflicted violence.

Interpersonal violence

This type of violence is characterized because it is a harm or threat that is carried out from one person to another, or to a group of people.

The causes of this type of violence can be multiple, but are generally associated with social factors such as poverty or the absence of structures and institutions that allow the development of the individual’s potential (access to food, health, work, etc. .).

Assaults are the most common example of interpersonal violence.

Collective violence

In this case, it is the aggression caused by one group towards another. These behaviors can be induced by political, religious or cultural factors, as well as by social inequalities that cause a majority group to exercise violence against minorities.

Tribal conflicts in some areas of Africa or attacks motivated by xenophobia (rejection of foreigners) are expressions of collective violence.

Types of violence according to the type of aggression

Violence can be classified according to the nature or type of damage it generates:

Physical violence

They are all violent actions carried out with the purpose of causing harm to the body of another person.

Physical violence can have different levels, and can range from inconspicuous actions (a scratch), to more forceful attacks (blows, bleeding wounds) and even death.

A push, kick, choking attempt, slapping or pulling another person’s hair are examples of physical violence.

Psychological violence

They are all those behaviors exercised to harm the psyche of the individual. This type of violence is not always visible, and even many victims may not be aware that they are suffering from it.

An example of psychological violence is deliberately ignoring someone in need of care, as well as isolating them from their family or friends. It is a type of behavior closely associated with domestic violence.

Verbal violence

Verbal violence makes use of messages that are intended to cause discomfort in the affected person.

Although insults fall into this category, they are not always used for this type of violence.

An example can be when a couple argues, and one of the two says something that without necessarily being insulting or rude, is violating the other person because their message is hurtful or deliberately seeks to hurt.

Sexual violence

They are behaviors that violate the sexual integrity of another person, and involve the execution of acts or conduct without their consent.

Rape is a clear example of sexual violence that also involves psychological and physical violence. Street harassment or intimidation are also forms of violence.

See also Difference between harassment, assault and sexual abuse .


It is the type of violence that is characterized by the omission of actions that can generate well-being in another person or group.

An example of negligence occurs when law enforcement authorities do not act promptly in a rape case, or when a doctor fails to perform certain tests that could determine a disease.

Types of violence according to the scope of action

Violence can also be exercised in different areas. In that case, it is classified as:

Political violence

Political violence is any act exercised from the legitimate power (the State) or its institutions to attack citizens.

This type of violence can be expressed through repressive actions, arbitrary detentions or forced disappearances.

Economic violence

It is the violation of the right of other people to use their money or their assets. Although it can be exercised in different ways (from an employer to their employees, for example), it is very common for it to occur in violent relationships, in which one of the members prevents the other person from having access to their money, personal belongings , documents (credit cards, passport, etc.)

Religious violence

It involves the use of power to attack a minority group that does not share the same beliefs as the majority religious group.

However, religious violence can also occur when a group of people belonging to a particular belief is manipulated into giving up some of their rights in the name of the religious institution.

Forcing members of a religious community to give money, property or personal data is a form of religious violence.

Cultural violence

In this case, violent acts against a person or group are regulated by the cultural context, which causes them to be perceived as natural or common events.

In many families, child abuse is still perceived as a way to correct behaviors that are considered inappropriate. Ablation (the removal of the clitoris) remains a common practice in many underdeveloped societies, even when this act involves physical, sexual and psychological violence.

Workplace violence

It is any violent act or conduct that takes place in the workplace, regardless of the hierarchy of who executes or is the victim of the action.

Yelling, name calling, threats of dismissal, harassment or teasing are just a few examples of workplace violence.


It is the attack on a person or groups of people through the use of digital channels (social networks, email, instant messaging, etc.).

Some examples of cyberbulying are the disclosure of private information of another person without their consent, the submission to public derision through social networks, etc.

See also:

Family or domestic violence

It is any type of violent act that is generated within the family nucleus. This can include various types of violence, such as physical, psychological, economic or sexual violence, and can occur between various members of the family (parents and children, partners, etc.)

Gender violence

Gender violence is any act that violates the rights and integrity of a person or a group of people based on their sex, gender, orientation or sexual identity. This can include other types of violence and can be expressed in different settings.

With the above, it is understood that gender violence can manifest itself through physical, psychological, verbal, sexual acts, and can occur anywhere.

However, although any individual can be a victim of gender-based violence, it is generally women, girls and the LGBTI population who are the most vulnerable.

A very common example of gender violence is the teasing, aggression and disqualification suffered by people from the LGBTI community.

See also Sex and gender.

Racial violence

It has to do with acts of aggression towards a person or group that is considered inferior or a minority due to their race.

The forced displacement of ethnic minority groups (such as the Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic group in Myanmar) are an example of racial violence.

See also:

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