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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 expressedly 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 (ie: 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

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)
  • nonabusive corporal punishment of women by their husbands (legal in the past, and in some countries to the present day)
  • nonabusive corporal punishment of children by their parents and people acting in loco parentis (today illegal in some countries)


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