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What Is The Difference Between Violence and Abuse?

    * I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

    Abuse can take several forms – violence is one of them. Although abuse and violence can share similar conduct, they’re often not the same thing. Keep reading to learn the what is the difference between violence and abuse and how you can distinguish the two.

    What Is The Difference Between Violence and Abuse?

    What is Abuse? 

    Abuse is almost any behavior inflicted by a perpetrator that causes us distress or harm. There are six different types of abuse. These are: 

    Physical Abuse

    Physical abuse is any intentional act that causes injury or trauma via bodily contact. Physical abuse not only affects victims in the moment, but its impact can last a lifetime. Physical abuse isn’t always a punch to the face.

    It can also include kicking, shaking, suffocating, hair pulling, pinching, biting, scratching, or burning. These could all be described as direct physical abuse, but physical abuse can be indirect, too.

    For example, spitting or throwing objects at someone is considered physical abuse, but these would be considered indirect because body-to-body contact didn’t occur. 

    Verbal Abuse

    Verbal abuse isn’t as easy to spot as physical abuse. You may not even know you’re being verbally abused in some cases.

    This type of abuse often escalates with time, and if it’s continuously repeated, it can take a serious toll on your mental health

    Verbal abuse doesn’t always involve screaming or yelling. Verbal abuse is the act of using any expression of behaviors or words that are used to control, manipulate, intimate, or maintain power over another person.

    Emotional abuse can come from parents and coworkers to caregivers and parents. 

    Examples of verbal abuse could be name-calling, belittling or humiliation, or threatening you. 

    Sexual Abuse

    Sexual abuse is one of the most serious forms of abuse. Sexual abuse or molestation is defined as any abusive sexual behavior inflicted by one person to another.

    Sexual abuse is always non-consensual, and it’s often inflicted with force or by manipulation. Like other types of abuse, molestation is always about control and power.

    Examples of sexual abuse can include rape, attempted rape, non-consensual oral sex, sodomy, incest, or sexual harassment. 

    Psychological Abuse

    Psychological abuse is the use of manipulation and malicious tactics to control, degrade, or isolate another person. Psychological abuse is never physical, but this doesn’t make its impact any less severe. 

    Psychological abuse can take many forms. Some common examples include: 

    • Stalking or harassment 
    • Mocking
    • Screaming
    • Name calling and criticism
    • Controlling access to family and friends
    • Using jealousy to justify controlling behavior 
    • Making rules about where you can go or who you can see 
    • Making someone do something humiliating 
    • Character assassination 
    • Being dismissive 
    • Saying something cruel and brushing it off as a ‘joke’
    • Belittling accomplishments
    • Insulting your appearance 

    Financial Abuse

    Financial abuse is a type of coercive control characterized by a pattern of behavior that could include restricting a victim’s access to money, getting them into debt, or using money to isolate them. 

    Financial abuse is often inflicted by a partner or close family member, and in most cases, the perpetrator will control all of the household finances and refuse to include the victim in their decisions.

    The perpetrator may accumulate large amounts of debt in the victim’s name, refuse to give them money or take control of the victim’s money, and more. 

    Unfortunately, financial abuse can be difficult to spot. Anyone can be a victim of financial abuse, but in most cases, vulnerable people and the elderly are the most common victims.  

    Cultural Abuse 

    This type of abuse doesn’t get as much attention as others, and it can be hard to spot. Cultural abuse is destructive at its core.

    This type of abuse may belittle your beliefs or traditions, prevent you from participating in cultural traditions, misusing your own spiritual practices against you, using phrases such as ‘you’re not native enough,’ and tell you that you can’t participate in certain cultural activities because of your gender. 

    Cultural abuse can inflict lasting wounds and isolate you from your friends, family, and the wider community. It can erode your identity and leave you feeling lost and removed from society. 

    What is Violence? 

    Violence is a type of abuse, and it’s one of the most serious. 

    Violence is defined as any behavior that’s intended to damage, hurt, or kill someone or something. Violence is almost always an act of physical force, but it can also be psychological.

    Violence can be split into three categories: 

    Self-Directed Violence

    This is any act that a person does intentionally to harm themselves, such as intentional injury or suicide. 

    Interpersonal Violence

    Interpersonal violence is also known as ‘intimate partner’ violence. This is usually domestic violence and may involve physical or psychological abuse. 

    Collective Violence 

    Collective violence is usually inflicted by one group to another. Collective violence can be used to achieve a social, political, or economic objective. 

    In its most extreme forms, violence could be defined as assault, rape, or murder. 

    Abuse and Violence: The Differences 

    Although abuse and violence may seem like the same thing, they are often differentiated at a legal level.

    For example, domestic abuse could point to intentional injury or impairment of the victim, but violence may describe actions that don’t cause physical injuries. Although the conduct is similar, in a court of law, they may differ significantly. 

    The term ‘abuse’ is usually slightly broader than violence. Domestic abuse, for example, is often not limited to partners and spouses. It can also refer to abuse between adults and children and even non-related parties. 

    While we often use the terms ‘abuse’ and ‘violence’ to refer to intentionally harmful acts between humans, these terms are also used to describe non-living aspects. For example, abuse of power or office and substance abuse. 

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    Final Thoughts

    Abuse and violence share many similarities, but in a court of law, they can be completely different. Abuse and violence are never justifiable.

    If you’ve been a victim of abuse or violence, seek help immediately – as long as it’s safe for you to do so.

    If you need a crisis hotline or want to learn more about therapy, please see below:

    For more information on mental health, please see:

    If You Need A Crisis Hotline Or Want To Learn More About Therapy, Please See Below:

    • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) – 1-800-656-4673
    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
    • National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
    • NAMI Helpline (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – 1-800-950-6264

    For More Information On Mental Health, Please See:

    • SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) SAMHSA Facebook, SAMHSA Twitter, SAMHSA LinkedIn, SAMHSA Youtube
    • Mental Health America, MHA Twitter, MHA Facebook, MHA Instagram, MHA Pinterest, MHA Youtube
    • WebMD, WebMD Facebook, WebMD Twitter, WebMD Instagram, WebMD Pinterest
    • NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), NIMH Instagram, NIMH Facebook, NIMH Twitter, NIMH YouTube
    • APA (American Psychiatric Association), APA Twitter, APA Facebook, APA LinkedIN, APA Instagram

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