Violence is a general term to describe actions, usually deliberate, that cause or intend to cause injury or death to people or animals. In some contexts, damage or destruction of non-living objects is also called violence. Violence is often associated with aggression.
Most societies define violence against persons or the property of others as crime, unless it is a form of violence that is legal (see below).
Examples of illegal violence
Here are some forms/conceptions of violence condemned/conceived by various legal entities:
- Abuse - to use wrongly or improperly used; misuse
- Aggravated assault - assault with the use of weapons or in other circumstances beyond the realm of normal assault
- Assault - an unlawful physical attack upon another or threat to do violence to another
- Assault and battery - an assault involving actual bodily contact
- Battery - an unlawful attack upon another person by beating or wounding, or by touching in an offensive manner
- Cruelty to animals - a cruel act upon an animal
- Child abuse - cruelty to children (people under the age of 18)
- Domestic violence - acts of violence against a person living in one's household or a member of one's immediate family
- Homicide - the killing of another human being
- Murder - homicide in certain proscribed conditions
- Property damage - damage to another's property (i.e. breaking of things, burning, or harming in a devastating manner)
- Rape - the unlawful compelling of someone through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse
The monopoly on violence
One of the main functions of law is to regulate violence. Indeed, the sociologist Max Weber famously stated that power is the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force on a specific territory. In modern societies, the state retains this monopoly. In earlier communities, a chieftain or king might have had that right. That is to say "violence" also refers to the means used by authorities in order for their decisions to be applied.
Governments regulate the use of violence through, often complicated, legal systems governing individuals, political authorities as well as police and military forces. Many societies condone some amount of police violence to maintain the status quo and enforce laws. Many societies also condone the killing of animals for food and even sport, though many have laws or mores against animal cruelty.
Certain forms and degrees of violence are socially and/or legally sanctioned, and some result from legal action, while others constitute crimes within a specific society. Different societies apply different standards relating to sanctioned and non-sanctioned forms of violence.
Examples of legal violence
Legal action often involves violence. In the past (and in some countries to the present day), people were often tortured during interrogation, and convicted criminals were often given corporal punishments (such as whippings) or were even executed by the authorities. Such action, despite its violence, was usually not considered a crime because it was prescribed by the law.
Other examples of legal forms of violence include:
- legal forms of violence against animals (such as killing)
- corporal punishment of slaves by their owners (in the past when slavery was legal)
- non-abusive corporal punishment of women by their husbands (legal in the past, and in some countries to the present day)
- non-abusive corporal punishment of children by their parents and people acting in loco parentis (today illegal in some countries)
The eroticization of violence
Images, descriptions and witnessing of violence can cause extreme emotional reactions, from shock and disgust to fascination and even erotic reactions. The latter is usually found in forms of violence that involve nudity of the victim (such as torture, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or rape). There are various genres in adult fiction, drawing, and film focusing on such forms of violence. For example, hentai art often involves rape, while guro involves the eroticization of physical injury.
Some people also like to enact violence consensually (usually in forms that are "safe" and do not cause serious injuries or permanent damage) with their sexual or play partners, such as in various forms of BDSM play.
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