The 10 types of gender violence (and its causes)

The physical and psychological aggressions of men towards women can appear in many different ways. And they are all harmful.

Gender violence is a real public health alarm . The UN presented reports showing that, worldwide in 2019, 35% of women suffered some form of sexist violence, either physical or psychological. Or both.

And this figure, which is already chilling in itself, becomes even more when we review the deaths. In 2019, some 50,000 women were murdered by their romantic partners around the world. And this is only the confirmed cases. There are many more.

And is that despite being a global problem, gender violence is especially notorious in less developed countries, where women’s rights are violated daily. Proof of this are the 200 million women who have suffered genital mutilation in these countries.

In today’s article we will review the main types of gender violence, since not all sexist aggressions are the same . Each one manifests itself with a different violence and has different causes.

What is gender violence?

The United Nations (UN) defines gender violence as “any act of violence against women that may result in physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical attacks, threats, coercion and deprivation of individual liberty, that occurs on the public highway or in the privacy of the home ”.

Gender-based violence causes serious health problems, both physically and emotionally, in addition to completely altering the coexistence and affecting the mood of the children, if they exist, which can carry trauma throughout their lives.

Physical assaults are the most notorious: bruises, blows, scratches, burns, fractures … And these can lead to coma and even death, thus leading to homicide. But gender violence is not only this. Because beyond the terrible data on murders and injuries, gender-based violence has many more implications on the physical and psychological health of women.

Anxiety, depression, gynecological problems, unwanted pregnancies, increased risk of suffering from sexually transmitted diseases, spontaneous abortions (if the aggression occurs during pregnancy), insomnia, stress, problems at work, social isolation, alcoholism, eating disorders, suicide, gastrointestinal disorders, weakness and fatigue …

There is nothing more harmful to a woman’s health than suffering gender violence. This form of violence, whatever the type we are referring to, is destructive at all levels of her life, both for the woman and for her loved ones.

Causes of gender violence

The process by which gender violence from the aggressor to his victim begins is very complex, since factors of the personality of both come into play, education, past experiences, economic situation, country policies, etc. Therefore, it is impossible to establish universal causes. Each case is unique and deserves to be analyzed individually. However, the statistics show that there are some risk factors .

  1. Risk factors for aggressors

Studies show that people who meet several of the following risk factors are at least more likely to end up physically or psychologically assaulting their partners with greater or lesser severity.

Low educational level, having suffered child abuse, having the experience of gender violence in the family , being people with a tendency to violence and impulsivity, being very possessive, consuming excessively alcohol, having non-substance addictions (such as gambling or bets), having personality disorders, having ideologies that defend that men are above women… All these situations increase the risk that this person will attack their partner.

  1. Risk factors for victims

Similarly, there are some risk factors for the victims, that is, situations or circumstances that make a woman a “target” of the aggressors, making her more prone to suffer gender violence on a physical and / or psychological level.

Unemployment, communication problems, problems with alcohol or other substances, dissatisfaction in marriage , submissive attitudes, having a family history of gender violence, not having received an education that women are the same as men, having financial problems … Everything This can make it more difficult for a woman to both avoid and escape forms of gender-based violence.

What are the types of gender violence?

Gender-based violence does not always translate into physical attacks. There are many other ways in which perpetrators threaten the integrity and health of women , both physically and emotionally.

Any of the forms of gender violence, despite the fact that some are more insidious than others, are a true public health alarm and measures and social awareness are required to reduce the number of women who suffer these attacks as soon as possible.

  1. Physical violence

It is the form of gender violence that grabs the most headlines, as it is the one that usually results in homicides. Physical violence is any aggression that compromises the physical integrity of a woman: bruises, falls, shoves, fractures, burns, scratches, bruises … All of this can lead to temporary or permanent disabilities and even coma or death.

  1. Psychological violence

It is not as recognized as the physical but it is just (or more) harmful than this. On a physical level there may not be an aggression, but the emotional health of the woman is incredibly damaged. It is the most insidious form of aggression, since the aggressor little by little makes the woman feel inferior in order to control her actions.

Insults, emotional blackmail, humiliation in public, threats, coercion, contempt, devaluation, harassment, restriction of freedom, manipulation … All this ends up making women feel trapped and without freedom to say and do what they really think.

  1. Economic violence

Economic violence, related to psychological violence, is any act that an aggressor performs with the aim of making his partner economically dependent on him, in order to control it and make sure that he is not going to complain about what he does. Control money, encourage them to leave work and, ultimately, deprive women of all means to be autonomous.

  1. Sexual violence

One of the most obvious forms of gender violence. Sexual violence is any situation that violates the sexual freedom of women. Obviously, rape and sexual contacts not accepted by women are included, but sexual violence goes further. Sexual coercion, harassment, intimidation, etc. are also forms of gender violence.

  1. Work violence

Work violence does not occur through a specific aggressor. It is the one promoted by countries where it is difficult for women to access jobs with greater responsibility, there is a wage gap, women are ignored in work environments and their progress and stability in companies is complicated by the simple fact of to be a woman. It is one of the most common forms of gender violence and one of the forms of discrimination in which, both men and women, must fight to make it disappear.

  1. Symbolic violence

In symbolic violence there is not an attack on a specific woman, but on the entire group. Symbolic violence includes all those stereotypes, prejudices, behaviors, jokes, values, ideologies and messages that encourage other forms of gender violence to be repeated. It is one of the most difficult to eradicate since they are very integrated in the collective mentality and we do not realize that they are actually harmful to the freedom of women.

  1. Vicarious violence

It is the type of gender violence against women but in which children come into play, generally the children in common of the couple. In this case, the aggressor, in order to get what he wants or to harm his wife, threatens to attack his children. It is one of the most dangerous forms of gender violence, as not only is the emotional health of women compromised, but children can carry trauma forever and even, in the most serious cases, their lives can be in danger.

  1. Institutional violence

Similar to labor in the sense in which countries promote it, institutional violence is any form of discrimination in which women, simply because they are, have more difficulties in being treated the same as men in all institutional processes of the state, so they cannot exercise their rights. Fortunately, at least in developed countries, this form of violence is becoming less common. The one that must be solved immediately is the labor one.

  1. Patrimonial violence

Related to the economic one, patrimonial violence is one in which the aggressor blackmails, deceives or incites his wife to give him the ownership of his assets and assets. Houses, businesses, objects of great value, inheritances … In this way, in addition to profiting financially, she makes women lose their economic autonomy and become dependent on her.


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