Types Of Violence - World BEYOND War (2023)

Types Of Violence - World BEYOND War (1)

By Suman Khanna Aggarwal, May 22, 2020

“The 20th century will be remembered as a century marked by violence. It burdens us with its legacy of mass destruction, of violence inflicted on a scale never seen and never possible before in human history. We owe our children … a life free from violence and fear. In order to ensure this, we must be tireless in our efforts not only to attain peace… but… address the roots of violence. Only then will we transform the past century’s legacy from a crushing burden into a cautionary lesson.”– Nelson Mandela, Foreword to World Health Organization’s World Report on Violence and Health, 2002

The WHO World Report on Violence and Health (WRVH) defines violence as:

“The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development or deprivation”

Physical violence can be classified into three broad categories, according to who commits the violent act:

  • Self-directed Violence – against oneself; suicidal behaviour, self-abuse;
  • Collective Violence – against a group or community; social, political or economic.
  • Interpersonal Violence – against another person.

Direct violence against nature can be termed as Ecological Violence. This form of violence is often intimately tied to commercial gain. However, we must accept that we can no longer take our planet for granted, and that the increasing ecological imbalance on our planet is a cause of grave concern. We are now at a tipping point, where continued exploitation of the Earth’s resources for our comfort and financial gain will only lead to our own destruction.

Structural Violence

The term Structural Violence is commonly ascribed to the renowned Norwegian sociologist and peace researcher, Johan Galtung. He first introduced the term in his article ‘Violence, Peace, and Peace Research,’ published in 1969. Structural Violence refers to a form of violence wherein social/cultural structures or institutions harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. Galtung’s Violence Triangle (above) makes a clear distinction between these three types of violence.

Galtung argues that the Violence Triangle has a similar structure to that of an iceberg, in which there is always a small visible part and a huge hidden part. Direct Violence, since most of its effects are visible, corresponds to the tip of the iceberg. It is commonly thought that Direct Violence is the worst kind of violence due to its inherent visibility, which makes it easier to identify and therefore to combat. However, this is not true. It is important to note that Direct Violence is the symptom, the manifestation of a deeper cause, whose origin lies in the hidden part of the iceberg: in cultural and structural violence. Thus, cultural and structural violence are often the cause of direct violence and direct violence reinforces structural and cultural violence, leading to a never-ending vicious circle of violence.

Cultural Violence

Cultural Violence finds expression through religion, ideology, language, art, science, media, education, etc., and serves to legitimize direct and structural violence and to inhibit or suppress the response of victims. It is rooted in the illusion of superiority of one culture over another, one ethnic group over another, one nation over others, etc. It also offers a justification for humans, unlike other species, to inflict widespread violence and destruction, and to be rewarded in some manner for doing so.

Subtle Violence

Since both Structural and Cultural Violence are covert forms of violence and discrimination, they can be subsumed under Subtle Violence. An example of this can be seen at the way some International Conferences are planned. Women speakers are frequently given time slots only in the afternoons or towards the fag end of a session, when attendance gets thinned or participants feel tired and so are no longer eager to listen closely.

Mental Violence

Mental Violence refers to purely psychological and emotional harassment, torture and its equivalents. For example, a young Indian bride may be made to feel inferior simply because her complexion is dark, or she may be repeatedly taunted by her in-laws on the ground that her parents haven’t provided adequate dowry. This is a clear instance of mental violence which can easily happen in Indian society.

It may here be pointed out that to begin with, in pre-modern times in India, dowry was a way to give the daughter her share of the landed property in the form of jewellery or cash, which she was solely entitled to and was considered sacrosanct for her by her husband and in-laws. It is only as Indian society became more materialistic that the prospective husband and his family started demanding and receiving dowry. Dowry became illegaland punishable with a prison term in India with the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961, but is still practiced covertly by rich, middle- class and poor alike. Dowry is not a uniquely Indian practice; similar practices exist in other cultures as well.

On a personal level, an example of Mental Violence is when the significant other in a relationship gives his or her partner the silent treatment. Ostracism from one’s family and/or community is also a form of Mental Violence. For instance, Gandhi’s autobiography describes how he was ostracized by the Bania community when he went to England to study Law, because it was a caste taboo to go overseas.

Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence violates the sanctity of the victim. Paedophilia, rape, including marital rape, and human trafficking all fall in this category. Adults and children can be trafficked or enslaved and forced to sell their bodies for sex.

Sexual Violence can also be used as a weapon of war. Both men and women can be victims of this form of violence. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820, adopted in 2008, describes conflict-driven sexual violence as “a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group…”In recent times, sexual violence has been used as an instrument of calculated warfare particularly in cases of ethnic conflict. This form of violence is finally being discussed in the public sphere. In 2018, the Nobel Peace Prize was shared by Congolese gynaecologist Dr. Denis Mukwege and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

Spiritual Violence

An even more overlooked form of violence is that which may be called spiritual. This kind of violence results from an overemphasis on the human being’s material interests as against his or her spiritual welfare. When parenting, education systems and lifestyles focus on developing the body and mind but neglect the spirit, it can be classified as spiritual violence. This attitude may be termed as violence because it injures the totality of a person’s being. Such imbalance in upbringing prompts children – especially when they become young adults – to take to unduly materialistic life styles, consumerism and extreme individualism. This tends to harm interpersonal relationships, leading to loneliness, depression, broken relationships and various psychic ailments. Indeed, indifference to our spiritual interests costs us very dearly.

Dr. Suman Khanna Aggarwal is former Professor of Philosophy at Delhi University and Founder and President of Shanti Sahyog, a Gandhian NGO, and the Shanti Sahyog Center for Peace & Conflict Resolution in India.


Types Of Violence - World BEYOND War? ›

There are many more types of violence than just the physical harm which an actor can cause to others. Peace research must include all types of violence: physical and psychological; personal (direct) and structural (indirect); intended and unintended; manifest (observable) and latent.

What are the different types of violence in peace studies? ›

There are many more types of violence than just the physical harm which an actor can cause to others. Peace research must include all types of violence: physical and psychological; personal (direct) and structural (indirect); intended and unintended; manifest (observable) and latent.

What are some examples of cultural violence? ›

Cultural Violence represents the existence of prevailing or prominent social norms that make direct and structural violence seem “natural” or “right” or at least acceptable. For example, the belief that Africans are primitive and intellectually inferior to Caucasians gave sanction to the African slave trade.

What is meant by structural violence? ›

Structural violence refers to a form of violence wherein social structures or social institutions harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. Although less visible, it is by far the most lethal form of violence, through causing excess deaths—deaths that would not occur in more equal societies.

What are the causes of structural violence? ›

“Structural violence occurs whenever people are disadvantaged by political, legal, economic or cultural traditions. Because they are longstanding, structural inequities usually seem ordinary, the way things are and always have been,” according to D.D. Winter and D.C. Leighton.

What are the 5 main types of violence? ›

Using these as a basis, we shall distinguish five inter-related types of violence:
  • physical violence.
  • verbal violence (including hate speech)
  • psychological violence.
  • sexual violence.
  • socio-economic violence.

What are the 4 levels of violence? ›

By looking more closely at the nature of acts of violence, these three categories can be further divided into four, more specific, types of violence:
  • Physical violence.
  • Sexual violence.
  • Psychological violence.
  • Neglect.

What is an example of ethnocentrism violence? ›

The most detrimental effects of ethnocentrism resulting into genocide, apartheid, slavery, and many violent conflicts. Historical examples of these negative effects of ethnocentrism are The Holocaust, the Crusades, the Trail of Tears, and the internment of Japanese Americans.

What is an example of subculture of violence? ›

Some examples of subcultures of violence are seen in those who engage in fighting because they feel they have to defend their reputation and respect, and in gang members who commit retaliation homicides.

What is an example of socio cultural violence? ›

Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution.

What is an example of latent violence? ›

Swearing, threatening to remarriage and divorce, restricting the freedom of behavior and activity, forcing to see images and scenes that are against the custom, etc consist most of the examples of latent victimization that can be classified as psychological violence.

What is an example of symbolic violence? ›

Examples of the exercise of symbolic violence include gender relations in which both men and women agree that women are weaker, less intelligent, more unreliable, and so forth (and for Bourdieu gender relations are the paradigm case of the operation of symbolic violence), or class relations in which both working-class ...

What is an example of indirect violence? ›

This includes social problems like racism, sexism, heterosexism, xenophobia and even elitism. With this kind of violence there is no specific person who can be held accountable for the harm done, but rather, the problem lies in the entire society and the beliefs that the society holds.

What is an example of institutional violence? ›

Institutional Violence

Moreover, abuses or assaults that are practiced by corporate bodies—groups, organizations, or even a single individual on behalf of others—include those forms of violence that over time have become “institutionalized,” such as war, racism, sexism, terrorism, and so on.

What are any three forms of structural violence? ›

Some examples of structural violence as proposed by Galtung include institutionalized adultism, ageism, classism, elitism, ethnocentrism, nationalism, speciesism, racism, and sexism.

What is socio cultural violence? ›

Definition. Sociocultural theories of violence focus on how violence can be explained through a combination of features of the cultural environment and aspects of specific social structures and institutions.

What are the 10 causes of violence? ›

Causes of Youth Violence
  • Media Influence. GeorgiaCourt / Getty Images. ...
  • Communities and Neighborhoods. ...
  • Domestic Violence and Child Abuse. ...
  • Insufficient Parental Supervision. ...
  • Peer Pressure. ...
  • Drug and Alcohol Use. ...
  • Traumatic Events. ...
  • Mental Illness.
Jun 9, 2020

What are the 8 abuses? ›

What are the ten different types of abuse?
  • Physical abuse.
  • Domestic violence or abuse.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse.
  • Financial or material abuse.
  • Modern slavery.
  • Discriminatory abuse.
  • Organisational or institutional abuse.

What are the 7 types of violent crime? ›

These acts of violence include, but are not limited to:
  • Homicide (murder, criminal vehicular operation or manslaughter)
  • Assault.
  • Criminal sexual conduct.
  • Robbery.
  • First degree burglary (burglary with a weapon or an occupied dwelling)
  • Second degree residential burglary (burglary of an unoccupied dwelling)

What are the 6 elements of the cycle of violence? ›

Six distinct stages make up the cycle of violence: the set-up, the abuse, the abuser's feelings of “guilt” and his fear of reprisal, his rationalization, his shift to non-abusive and charming behavior, and his fantasies and plans for the next time he will abuse.

What are the types of cycle of violence? ›

There are three phases in the cycle of violence: (1) Tension-Building Phase, (2) Acute or Crisis Phase, and (3) Calm or Honeymoon Phase. Without intervention, the frequency and severity of the abuse tends to increase over time. Over a period of time there may be changes to the cycle.

What are the three dimensions of violence? ›

Johan Galtung explained violence in terms of its three dimensions; direct violence, structural violence, and cultural violence. He suggested that these dimensions of violence can be depicted as the three arms of a triangle.

What is xenocentric? ›

The term xenocentrism refers to the desire to engage in the elements of another's culture rather than one's own. Styles, ideas and products can all be items of preference by someone with xenocentrist viewpoints.

What is an example of xenocentrism? ›

What are some examples of Xenocentrism? The idea that French wine is superior to all other wine is one example of xenocentrism. Another example is the notion of America as being "the land of opportunity".

What are the theories of violence? ›

These include: exchange theory, subcultural theory, resource theory, patriarchal theory, ecological theory, social learning theory, evolutionary theory, sociobiological theory, pathological conflict theory, psychopathological theory, general systems theory, and inequality theory.

What is a sub cultural abuser? ›

Other types of abusers are the subcultural abuser, the mentally ill abuser, employees of institutions who are perpetrating institutionally prescribed abuse such as spanking and striking, and the hidden and usually professionally successful group of self-identified abusers. 3 references.

What is an example of deviant subculture? ›

deviant subcultures--groups that develop values and norms considered outside the culture of the dominant population; examples of deviant subcultures include some musical groups, youth gangs, alternative lifestyles, and nontraditional religious communities.

What are global examples of structural violence? ›

Structural violence includes income inequality, racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, ableism, and other means of social exclusion leading to stress, poverty, trauma, crime, incarceration, lack of access to care, healthy food, and physical activity.

What are some examples of cultural conflict in the world? ›

An example of cultural conflict is the debate over abortion. Ethnic cleansing is another extreme example of cultural conflict. Wars can also be a result of a cultural conflict; for example the differing views on slavery were one of the reasons for the American civil war.

What are cultural theories of violence? ›

Specifically, culture of violence theory explains how cultures and societies can sanction violent acts. While related to structural violence, cultural violence theory is different by explaining why direct acts of violence or violence built into systems of society exists and how they are legitimized.

What is an example of spontaneous violence? ›

An example of a completely spontaneous violent behavior was 'Someone insults you and you immediately strangle them. ' An example of nonviolent behavior involving substantial planning was 'Your romantic partner threatens you.

What are real life examples of direct violence? ›

direct violence, e.g. physical or behavioural violence such as war, bullying, domestic violence, exclusion or torture.

What is slow violence examples? ›

Slow violence: Suffering, degradation, and pain inflicted upon people and communities by impersonal, dispersed forces; spread across time and space, with no defined point of impact, but nevertheless the result of a perpetrator/s' actions. In the Niger delta, the glowing flames of oil refineries rob the people of night.

What is representational violence? ›

In order to militate against one kind of linguistic violence— the damaging effects of utterances on persons—they have to commit another kind of violence. By assigning a unitary identity to the targets of hate speech, the protectors of vulnerable bodies engage in a violence of representation.

What is objective violence? ›

The second of the two types of violence is objective violence, defined as violence 'inherent in a system: not only direct physical violence, but also the more subtle forms of coercion that sustain relations of domination and exploitation, including the threat of violence' (Žižek 2009, p. 8).

What is an example of type 4 violence? ›

In Type 4 violence, the perpetrator has a relationship to the nurse outside of work that spills over to the work environment. For example, the husband of a nurse follows her to work, orders her home and threatens her, with implications for not only this nurse but also for her coworkers and patients.

What are examples of other directed violence? ›

The other-directed violence is not limited to the 5 items of interpersonal aggression, but rather is supplemented by 2 additional items: forcing someone to have sex, and robbing or mugging someone (Pulay et al., 2008).

What is structural and direct violence? ›

Direct violence injures or kills people quickly and dramatically, whereas structural violence is much more widespread and kills far more people by depriving them of satisfaction of their basic needs. For example, when people starve even though there's enough food for everyone, the distribution system…

What is direct structural and cultural violence? ›

Direct violence, physical and/or verbal, is visible as behaviour. But this action does not come out of nowhere; its roots are cultural and structural. Violence can take many forms. In its classic form, it involves the use of physical force, like killing or torture, rape and sexual assault, and beatings.

What is collective violence? ›

Forms of collective violence include wars, terrorism, and other violent political conflicts; state-perpetrated violence such as genocide, repression, and other abuses of human rights; and organized violent crimes such as banditry and gang warfare.

What is institutionalised aggression? ›

Institutional aggression refers to aggressive behaviours adopted by members of an institution; for example prisoners may form gangs that commit violence against other inmates.

What is expressive abuse? ›

Expressive violence (also known as hostile, impulsive, and reactive aggression) is affect driven. It is triggered by emotional reactions that are disproportionate to the situational factors that elicit them. The triggers may stimulate feelings of hurt and/or fear that are transformed into anger.

What are the 3 types of violence and how do they affect people? ›

Physical violence occurs when someone uses a part of their body or an object to control a person's actions. Sexual violence occurs when a person is forced to unwillingly take part in sexual activity. Emotional violence occurs when someone says or does something to make a person feel stupid or worthless.

What are the different types of violent conflicts? ›

Violent conflict Civil war, political violence, rebellion, anti- governmental violence, raiding, domestic violence, violent crime (murder, rape) A violent conflict involves at least two parties using physical force to resolve competing claims or interests.

What is Type 3 category of violence? ›

Type III: Violence involves a “worker-on-worker” relationship and includes “employees who attack or threaten another employee.”


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