Violence Basics > Basics about violence

In this section, we share some basic knowledge about interpersonal violence.

Violence can seem normal, but it is not.  We can stop it.

Interpersonal violence is complicated.  Many of us don’t really understand it or what to do about it.  This lack of understanding can mean that we blame the people who are hurt, make excuses for the people causing harm, or ignore what is happening.

Interpersonal violence is often used to control and is most common where there is unequal power.   Power can be thought of as access to money, jobs, education, social connection, etc.  People with the least access and who are most isolated also have the least power.  Power can be thought of as a political structure—some groups of people are favoured and valued more in our political and social systems, while other groups are marginalised.   Sexism, colonisation, ableism, poverty, ageism, etc, affect access to power, and mean that domestic violence and sexual assault is committed more against women, Māori, people with disabilities, poor people, young people, recent immigrants, queer people, etc. 

People who are marginalised might justify or excuse violence in their relationships as a way to “make up” for the powerlessness they feel in other parts of their lives.

The person harmed and the person hurting them may care about each other.  Our relationships are often where we learn about violence.  Those experiences can have a life-long impact.  Learning to separate experiences of violence and abuse from those of love, whānau and closeness can stop us from repeating relationships where love is tangled up with violence and abuse.

Learning to love and respect those in our whānau and communities shows us that we can tackle other structural problems like poverty, colonisation, racism, homophobia, anti-immigrant discrimination and patriarchy.

Ending violence means that instead of our energy going into the emotions and trauma that violence creates, we can use it for building healthy lives, relationships and communities.

10 basics about interpersonal violence that everyone should know