On Violence

“The principle of self defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned, even by Gandhi.” — MLK
Self defense is what you do when you are subjected to violence.
Violence is:
“The intentional use of power, physical or social, 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, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”
That is the definition of violence. it doesn’t play well with dictionary descriptions that serve only as a shorthand for meaning, but it does have the imprimatur of experts on the topic backing it up.

In 2002, the World Health Organization complied a landmark study of worldwide violence. This was the The World Report on Violence and Health.

Representing a consensus of experts and scientists, peer reviewed multiple times over, and acting as the new foundation of broader support for and understanding of the forces involved in tracking harmful, violent behavior, the report made it clear that there is a far more universal form of violence which is just as deadly as the oft seen and readily recognized brutality.

At this point, the WHO, a part of the medical and legal aspect of the United Nations, representing the vast majority of the nations, and the principle informing body to the other well known aspect of the UN relating to Human and Civil Rights, is not broadly or widely disagreed with by professionals, although often lay people, uninformed or misinformed by such trite and false aphorism such as the “sticks and stones” childhood rhyme, remain unaware of the violence they are engaged in.

That childhood rhyme, as well, is a statement of defiance, an utterance of the bullied to the bully, the oppressed to the oppressor, the victim to the abuser; a statement that they will no longer be hurt by those words because they can no longer be hurt by them — the scars are grown thick and calloused — which means less mobility and freedom of movement, more pain that comes back down the road, and fewer opportunities.

When one is ostracized, physically, the body receives such stimuli – that is, your body does what it does — in the same way it receives a physical blow. In controlled or uncontrolled situations, the act of ostracism, by itself, is felt by the body in the same way that a physical attack is felt.

The body reacts to them the same, with the physical blow simply involving more effort on the part of the body to heal, while with the nonphysical attack, the healing process takes much, much longer.

“Being excluded is painful because it threatens fundamental human needs, such as belonging and self-esteem,” Kipling Williams has said. “Again and again research has found that strong, harmful reactions are possible even when ostracized by a stranger or for a short amount of time.”

Kipling D. Williams is one of the foremost researchers in this area of Ostracism, Stigma, and social isolation, which has been ongoing for many years.

The messages that oppressed people are told are often about there being something wrong with them are part of Stigma. This is the entire purpose of discrimination — the aversion to, anxiety regarding, and/or animus towards oppressed groups.

They also receive messages about how what they are doing is wrong, or about how they are behaving is wrong, and when those messages are combined with the ones they have received all their lives and internalized – taken into themselves – these message serve to reinforce and often mirror the idea that something is wrong with them.

Internalization is the goal of oppression — to make those who are told they are less than think that about themselves, thus reinforcing the very things that those who oppress them say, and perpetuating the problem.

Two kinds of violence in particular are discussed at length, especially as they affect the lives of people in minority populations. These are psychological and deprivation/neglect.

Psychological violence includes and consists of the exclusion – or ostracism – of persons, and the application of stigma and societal efforts to deny them human dignity. So violence is also a core aspect and a major part of denying people their human and civil rights. This includes the violence of microaggressions (Sue, Derald Wing; Capodilupo, Christina M.; Torino, Gina C.; Bucceri, Jennifer M.; Holder, Aisha M. B.; Nadal, Kevin L.; Esquilin, Marta. Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice. American Psychologist, v62 n4 p271-286 May-Jun 2007), developed out of the work of Dr. Chester Pierce, and further added to later by Mary Rowe.

Microaggressions are a core concept in Critical Race Theory, and were brought into the mainstream of Feminist efforts and are often noted by Radical Feminist scholars such as Dr. Watkins, better known as bell hooks, in their critical race theory lensed approaches to feminism, which is directly oppositional to the sort of Radical Feminism, seen as colonialist, imperialist, white supremacist, and classist.

Deprivation/neglect consists of various forms of interpersonal, institutional, and consistent patterned violence that does not fundamentally include and consider the existence of trans people. This is called Ciscentrism, which is the normative pattern and the primary Axis of Oppression that trans people face, just like White Supremacy (racism), Patriarchy, Ableism, and so forth dominate other axes of oppression and are related form that work in tandem to oppress groups of people at a societal level.

The effects of Deprivation and neglect all stem from the denial of basic human dignity – which is the foundation of Human, civil, and Political rights.

What are some of the effects of this lifelong deprivation and neglect?

Poor physical health. Several studies have shown a relationship between various forms of household dysfunction (including childhood abuse) and poor health (Flaherty et al., 2006; Felitti, 2002). Adults who experienced abuse or neglect during childhood are more likely to suffer from physical ailments such as allergies, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, high blood pressure, and ulcers (Springer, Sheridan, Kuo, & Carnes, 2007).

Poor mental and emotional health. In one long-term study, as many as 80 percent of young adults who had been abused met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder at age 21. These young adults exhibited many problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts (Silverman, Reinherz, & Giaconia, 1996). Other psychological and emotional conditions associated with abuse and neglect include panic disorder, dissociative disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, anger, posttraumatic stress disorder, and reactive attachment disorder (Teicher, 2000; De Bellis & Thomas, 2003; Springer, Sheridan, Kuo, & Carnes, 2007).

Social difficulties. Children who experience rejection or neglect are more likely to develop antisocial traits as they grow up. Parental neglect is also associated with borderline personality disorders and violent behavior (Schore, 2003).

Juvenile delinquency and adult criminality. According to a National Institute of Justice study, abused and neglected children were 11 times more likely to be arrested for criminal behavior as a juvenile, 2.7 times more likely to be arrested for violent and criminal behavior as an adult, and 3.1 times more likely to be arrested for one of many forms of violent crime (juvenile or adult) (English, Widom, & Brandford, 2004).

Alcohol and other drug abuse. Research consistently reflects an increased likelihood that abused and neglected children will smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol, or take illicit drugs during their lifetime (Dube et al., 2001). According to a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as two-thirds of people in drug treatment programs reported being abused as children (Swan, 1998).

Breaking it down

These two forms of violence are then further divided intoInterpersonal and Community forms of violence, which then means that violence can be noted in 20 distinct forms by which it can happen.

Interpersonal violence is what happens when a small group of people are together – pretty much your most common experience on a day to day basis. Work, school, play, even just watching entertainment.

Community violence is that on the larger scale – those television programs, news reports, the things that people are taught and the way they are raised and socialized to think, the systems of institutions o the world around us.

From the analysis of these 20 different forms of violence, as seen in the image here, a definition of violence was developed. Violence is:

“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, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”

The way it broke down established fur different ways in which violence may be inflicted:

  • physical;
  • sexual
  • psychological attack

It further divides the general definition of violence into sub-types according to the victim-perpetrator relationship.

Self-directed violence refers to violence in which the perpetrator and the victim are the same individual and is subdivided into self-abuse and suicide. This demonstrates that suicide and self-abuse are directly caused by external forces which drive an individual to this sort of violence. This category includes child maltreatment; intimate partner violence; and elder abuse.

Interpersonal violence refers to violence between individuals, and is subdivided into family and intimate partner violence and community violence. This category is broken down into acquaintance and stranger violence and includes youth violence; assault by strangers; violence related to property crimes; and violence in workplaces and other institutions.

Assault is predominantly physical in terms of the way most people think of it, but it is also, as the image above demonstrates, non-physical, as is common especially among bullies and those who engage in domestic violence, which sets the stage and creates the opportunity for more physical violence by excusing that physical violence and establishing a pattern of blamelessness for the perpetrator and blame and fault for the victim.

Collective violence refers to violence committed by larger groups of individuals and can be subdivided into social, political and economic violence.