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The 11 types of violence (and the different kinds of aggression)

The 11 types of violence (and the different kinds of aggression)

May 10, 2021

Violence is not always easy to identify , since we have it very normalized and, under certain forms of expression, it can go unnoticed or taken as something "that is expected".

In this article r We will discuss the different types of violence and we will analyze the keys to know how to identify them wherever they occur. The goal is to make the task of recognizing patterns of behavior that are different forms of violence easier, which helps us act accordingly.

What is violence?

Summarizing, violence is the use of physical force or power against oneself or against others , so that this act causes physical damage, psychological damage or deprivation. This means that violence is the use of physical aggression to harm someone, but also the use of power, something more abstract, to cause damage or significantly limit the options that are posed to a person.


The key elements are the existence of a strategy and a series of actions that have the consequence that someone is injured, and that one of the main intentions behind this behavior is to cause harm or attempt against the physical or psychological integrity of someone. That is to say, that the intentions to harm someone are an essential factor so that we can talk about types of violence.

From the above it is clear that the concept of violence is something really very open . That's why we can talk, too, about the types of violence and how to identify them.

The different types of violence

There is no single criterion to classify the types of violence, but several. The most common tend to be based on two factors: the way in which violence is exercised and the subject or subjects that exercise it. These two factors are what structure the classification of types of violence.


Types of violence according to the type of agent

We'll see now the types of violence according to who inflicts the aggression , independently of everything else.

1. Self-inflicted violence

This is one of the most stigmatized types of violence that exist, since in them it is the person himself that harms himself , something that is very difficult to understand from the point of view of the rest of the people. In self-inflicted violence the person can make cuts in arms or legs, can be humiliated publicly, can hit the head against hard surfaces repeatedly, etc.

It is common that people who carry out this type of violence are going through highly stressful situations, have a personality disorder (many times, the Personality Disorder) or both. It is also possible that self-inflicted violence ends up in suicide or, rather, that it is one of the symptoms of a behavioral, cognitive and emotional dynamic that leads to suicide. The injuries that someone has inflicted before are not in themselves the cause of which he decides to take his own life.


The eternal debate is that there are many questionable things about the concept of self-inflicted violence, since putting the whole emphasis of violence on the individual may not be the most indicated if their behavior is the consequence of the violence that others exert against it. That is why, when we speak of self-inflicted violence, d we must bear in mind that behind it there may be other agents that we do not know and that are the cause of this type of violence.

2. Interpersonal violence

This is the kind of violence in which one individual assaults another . In this category we can find domestic violence, bullying, specific cases of robbery with violence, etc.

Although in interpersonal violence the cause is an individual (or a small group of them), it is possible that this type of aggression has part of its explanation in social phenomena. For example, drug use or poverty are factors closely linked to conflict.

3. Collective violence

Unlike what happens in the types of violence we have seen, in this the aggression is of a collective nature, of a group or community against another group . The motivations of collective violence are usually political, economic, or ideological-religious.

It is one of the most harmful types of violence, because its negative effects can be felt in many facets of life and, as it involves many people, it is easy to degenerate to lead to wounded and sometimes dead. For example, the same violence that causes some minorities to be viewed with contempt by a large part of the population often contributes to the appearance of physical aggression and even murder.

The situations that favor the emergence of collective violence are political, legal and social phenomena, such as the presence of religious fundamentalism, the systematic discrimination of minorities, the democratic deficits on the part of a state, the monopoly of certain valuable resources on the part of a relatively small group of people, or large social and economic inequalities.

Types of violence according to the nature of the act

It is also possible to distinguish between types of violence according to the way in which it is intended to harm or harm, that is, by observing the nature and content of the aggression. Within this category, there are the following classes:

4. Physical violence

This is perhaps the most typical and easy to imagine type of violence, since it is very visual and easy to identify. At, someone does something to harm another person's body , producing someone's pain and suffering. At times, it can lead to death.

Physical violence, in addition, usually leaves marks that qualified medical personnel can identify: scratches, wounds, bruises, etc.

5. Verbal violence

Verbal violence is one in which it is intended to harm the other person is a message or a speech . It may (or may not) contain insults or taboo words, since it is not essential to use that kind of resources to produce psychological distress.

In addition to producing anxiety, this type of violence can damage the self-esteem of people and their public image.

6. Sexual violence

In sexual violence there are behaviors and types of physical contact that denigrate someone through the appeal of their sexual dimension . When it is manifested through violations, it is accompanied by physical violence, although it should be noted that in these the sexual component is not a simple complement, but adopts a form of violence that consists of trying to harm the other psychologically. person.

7. Economic violence

It is a type of violence in which the ability of one or several people to use the money they earn is harmed . The theft and misuse of bank accounts fall into this category, as well as cheating to make investments that turn out to be a scam.

8. Negligence

Negligence is a type of violence that occurs by default , since in it aggression consists in not carrying out actions to which one is obliged to guarantee the minimum welfare of the rest. For example, a doctor who refuses to treat someone injured by a personal confrontation with this is negligent.

9. Religious violence

In this category comes the use of power to harm people by manipulating them with a series of beliefs and promises about a spiritual plane. It is very common to see how sects use this type of aggression to keep dominated those people who put money, time and effort into the maintenance of the institution.

10. Cultural violence

In this type of violence, the aggressions are part of the frame of reference of a culture and they are related to the signs of cultural identity of a specific culture. For example, the normalization of violations in armed conflicts or the ablation of female genitals are examples of cultural violence.

11. Cyberbullying

In cyberbullying Internet and social networks are often used to post information about a person or group of people with the desire to ridicule or humiliate. It is one of the types of violence whose scope is difficult to specify, because the number of people potentially capable of seeing this type of stigmatizing content is very high.

  • To know more about this kind of violence you can read: "Cyberbullying: analyzing the characteristics of virtual harassment"

A final reflection

Violence, in one way or another, has been part of our lives. Even thousands of years ago, before there were civilizations and writing, violent events took place between our ancestors who have left an archaeological record on aggression. Today the volume of violence that shakes our planet is still overwhelming and, to a greater or lesser extent, it even sneaks into the lives of those more privileged people with more resources to live away from poverty and marginality.

Precisely because the different kinds of violence have been manifested in one way or another depending on the historical moment and the place, each culture has used a way to interpret and react to it . Knowing how to recognize the different types of violence is one of the keys to fight against this phenomenon.

Bibliographic references:

  • Mayor S├ínchez, M. (2000). The crime of physical and mental abuse in the family. Tirant lo Blanch, Valencia.
  • Bern├írdez, A. ed. (2001). Gender violence and society: a question of power. Compilation of papers of the Summer University of El Escorial.
  • Burnley, J. (1993). Conflict. Ed. Morata, Madrid.

Aggression V. Altruism: Crash Course Psychology #40 (May 2021).


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