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It can be difficult to decipher the difference between violence and abuse when the two are so closely related. However, by definition violence is an action that causes destruction, pain, or suffering whilst abuse refers to prolonged maltreatment that can cause emotional as well as physical trauma. Due to the similarities between the two, the line between violence and abuse is somewhat of a grey area. In the eyes of the law, violence is usually perceived as an action (occurring once or twice) that causes physical harm whereas abuse is a form of sustained emotional and physical mistreatment that can span months or years. That being said, the following examples of violence and abuse demonstrate how corresponding the two are.


Violence refers to any behaviour involving physical force that intends to hurt, damage or kill someone or something. Unlike abuse which usually spans out over a longer period, violence tends to be more sporadic. If violence is prolonged, it becomes more closely related to abuse. Anyone of any age, gender, class, or background can commit violence. Violence can come in many forms; here are a few examples of common types of violence and their definitions:

  • Physical Violence: this type of violence seeks to deliberately hurt, injure or even kill an individual. Physical violence can come in the form of hitting, slapping, choking, punching, kicking, pushing, grabbing, throwing, burning, hair-pulling, twisting arms, tripping, confinement, or use of weapons.
  • Sexual Violence: Sexual violence is also known as sexual assault (forced sexual activity). Sexual violence can look like rape, unwanted sexual touching, exposure to pornography without consent, sharing private photos without consent. Sexual violence can happen in relationships too; just because you are in a relationship with someone doesn’t give you the right to their body. For example, removing a condom without your partner knowing/ their consent is a form of sexual violence.
  • Domestic Violence: Domestic violence (also called domestic abuse or family violence) is violence that occurs in a domestic setting, such as in a marriage or cohabitation between two partners. Domestic violence is often committed by one of the people in an intimate relationship against the other person and can take place in either heterosexual o same-sex relationships or between former spouses or partners. Children, parents or the elderly can also be victims of domestic violence.


We have established that the relationship between violence and abuse is closely linked. However, whilst violence and abuse can both cause individuals to experience pain and suffering at the hands of another individual, abuse refers to prolonged activity that can cause victims to experience emotional as well as physical trauma. Here are some common examples of abuse:

  • Sexual Abuse Whilst physical abuse refers to intentional bodily injury, sexual abuse refers to non-consensual sexual contact (any unwanted sexual contact). Sexual abuse also includes sexual harassment and emotional sexual abuse. Sexual harassment can come in the form of forcing another person to perform acts of a sexual nature against their will. It can also involve making continuous advances towards people who have already expressed their disinterest. Publishing an intimate photo of somebody without their consent is also a form of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse also happens within relationships in the form of sexual blackmail and coercion. For example, pressuring a partner into engaging in sexual intercourse despite them initially saying no is a form of sexual abuse. Additionally, making your partner perform certain sexual acts or making them feel bad (emotional blackmail) if they refuse sex is sexual abuse.
  • Child Abuse: There is no legal definition of child abuse. However, in any situation whereby a child experiences a lack of love, care, or emotional/physical/sexual abuse, the court recognizes this as child abuse. In other words, child abuse is any action that intentionally harms children or puts them in danger. Non-physical forms of abuse such as emotional abuse and neglect are just as serious as physical forms and perpetrators will be punished severely. Children may experience a singular incident of child abuse, or the abuse may continue over several years. Again, the lines between violence and abuse overlap.

How we can help

Here at Abuse Claims UK, we understand that both cases of violence and abuse are rife. If you have experienced something similar to what you have read today, you could be eligible for compensation. If you decide to seek justice for the violence or abuse you received as a child or as an adult, please do get in touch with our team of dedicated, experienced solicitors on +0151 242 5111.