Intro to Violence

Violence is a broad term to use. It can be used to describe anything from a terrorist attack to a school yard tussle. Merriam-Webster defines violence as, “the use of physical force to harm someone, to damage property, etc. : great destructive force or energy.” [1] This, too, is a broad definition. This post is about a specific type of violence, criminal violence. Criminal violence can be broken down into two categories: social and asocial violence.

Social violence can be defined as natural violence within a species. In his book, Facing Violence, Rory Miller describes five types of social violence: monkey dance, group monkey dance, status seeking show, educational beat down, and territorial defense. The major difference between the two categories of violence is that social violence does not follow the same tactics as violence against other species. For example, two rams will butt heads in a dominance game to see which one will mate with the flock. That is social violence. If the ram were to protect the flock from a wolf, he might flank the wolf, ramming him in the side off the cliff. This is asocial violence. Simply put, the kind of violence we use inside our own species is ritualized, and typically, it is designed to be non-lethal. [2]

If social violence is how we use violence inside our species, what is asocial violence? Asocial violence is still used inside our species, but the tactics and goals are quite different. Instead of using violence in a way to gain status or dominance, asocial violence is predatory and is used to get something from the individual(s) being attacked. Asocial violence is broken into two categories: resource predator and process predator. [3]

Both the resource and process predators will use violence and even kill to meet their needs. They use what is called dehumanizing to literally detach their victims from themselves. A rapist will not see his victim as a person but as a means to an end; the act of rape. We use this as well. When a serial killer has dismembered his victims and eaten them, we call him a monster. Soldiers use dehumanizing in war. Racists use it to separate different ethnic groups from themselves. Using dehumanization makes it easier to commit violent acts to other humans that they wouldn’t normally be able to do.

This is just a quick introduction to the different types of criminal violence. I will be posting subsequent posts detailing each category, type and different tactics used in each type of violence in the future.

1. “Violence.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2013. <>.

2. Rory Miller Facing Violence ( Wolfeboro, N.H.: YMAA Pub 2011), 25-36

3. Miller, 36

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