A woman arrives at the hospital due to a series of injuries . A bruise on the eye, burns, scratches on the back, a broken wrist, damage to the genital system, a history of hospital visits for alleged falls … While there may be a variety of causes, the combined presence of these factors leads to a suspicion of GBV.

This type of violence is a problem that still remains in today’s society and has taken the lives of many people, killed by their partners. But gender-based violence is not reduced to physical assault. There are different types of gender-based violence , which distorts and undermines a person’s situation because of their gender.

The concept of gender-based violence

Gender-based violence (or macho violence, according to other sources) is understood to be any type of violence that is carried out in violation of a person’s physical, psychological or relational well-being due to their sex or gender identity. The aggression is intentionally used, either through physical force or, with the purpose of causing harm, to coerce, limit or manipulate the person who is the object of violence.

This type of violence can have devastating effects on the victims . On a physical level, serious injuries can occur that can lead to incapacitation, coma or even death. On a psychological level, people who suffer gender-based violence are often unable to report it, usually due to fear of possible repercussions for them or their loved ones, the presence of disbelief or the belief that they will not be supported.

It is also not uncommon for victims to feel guilty or responsible for the situation or to fear causing pain to others (for example, in the presence of children). Depending on the type of education received or the time the victim may have been manipulated, it may even be thought that this is normal behaviour and/or that they feel worthy of it.


Generally, the aggressor acts out of a desire for power and domination, and is often influenced by gender stereotypes . Usually behind this there are feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem that are tried to be replaced through the domination of the one the individual considers inferior or unable to cope with.

It is also possible that there is an exaggerated self-esteem with narcissistic overtones that causes people to consider their own rights above those of others. In some cases, instrumental abuse directed at a specific target may be found. Finally, the absence of empathy is a phenomenon and/or uncontrolled impulsiveness may facilitate aggression.

Distinguishing types of aggression

When we talk about gender violence we usually think of situations in which aggressions occur within a couple . The most common situation of gender-based violence is that of a man who commits a series of continuous and systematic abuses by a woman because she is a woman, whom he considers inferior or tries to dominate.

This is why gender-based violence is often confused with male violence or violence against women. However, it should not be forgotten that there are also men who suffer this type of violence from their partners. In addition, although it is not usually considered gender-based violence because it is not based on sex or sexual identity, the existence of partner violence in same-sex couples should not be forgotten. That is why nowadays, more than gender violence, we should talk about partner violence.

Types of GBV

As indicated above, the concept of gender-based violence includes a wide variety of attitudes and actions that can harm the person from different dimensions. After all, there are many ways to harm a person.

Although not in all cases the person is attacked from all settings, within gender-based violence we can find the following types of violence .

1. Physical violence

The most visible and recognized gender-based violence is considered physical violence any act in which physical harm is inflicted on the victim rather than through direct aggression . Such damage may be temporary or permanent.

This type of violence includes beatings, injuries, fractures, scratches. While they can sometimes be trivialized or considered to occur during an argument, pushing and shoving also fall under the category of physical violence. Physical incapacitation can occur due to the consequences of the assaults, and even depending on the level of damage caused can lead to death.

2. Psychological violence

This type of violence is characterized because, although on a physical level there may not be an aggression, the victim is humiliated, undervalued and psychologically attacked . Such an attack may be direct and actively carried out in the form of insults and humiliation or carried out in a more passive way, devaluing the couple without them considering that they are suffering an attack.

Psychological violence includes the presence of humiliation, threats and coercion (in some cases using the threat of physical aggression against the victim or relatives), contempt and devaluation. It also makes the person feel defenceless, forced to do certain actions and dependent on the aggressor, guilty of the abusive situation and deserving of punishment.

Because there is often no direct aggression in the message, many victims are unaware that they are being abused and do not take action against the abuser. It can be considered that in practically all cases of gender-based violence, regardless of the type and motive, there is psychological violence.

3. Sexual violence

While in some ways it could be considered within physical violence, sexual violence specifically refers to those types of situations in which a person is forced or coerced to carry out activities of a sexual nature against their will, or in which sexuality is limited or imposed by another person.

Penetration and sexual intercourse are not necessary. It includes the presence of rape within the couple, forced prostitution, forced conception or abortion, genital mutilation, sexual harassment or unwanted touching among others.

  • You may be interested in: “Psychological profile of the rapist: 12 traits and attitudes in common”

4. Economic violence

This type of violence is based on the reduction and deprivation of economic resources to the partner or their offspring as a measure of coercion, manipulation or with the intention of damaging their integrity. It is also considered as such the fact of forcing economic dependence on the aggressor, preventing the access of the victim to the labour market by means of threat, coercion or physical restriction.

5. Property violence

It is considered patrimonial violence the usurpation or destruction of objects, goods and properties of the person who is the victim of violence with the intention of dominating him/her or causing him/her psychological damage. In many ways, these goods are the fruit of decades of work, and destroying them is a way of making it seem that all those efforts have been useless. However, it should be noted that this type of aggression can also affect other people, especially neighbours.

6. Social violence

Social violence is based on the limitation, control and induction of social isolation of the person . The victim is separated from family and friends, depriving him/her of social support and distancing him/her from his/her usual environment. Sometimes the victim is placed against his or her environment, causing either the victim or the environment to decide to dissociate themselves.

For example, attacks against the facade of the home are very characteristic of this type of violence, as they leave visible signs for everyone that the victim deserves to be attacked in full view of everyone.

7. Vicarious violence

A large number of couples in which gender-based violence occurs have children . On many occasions the aggressor decides to threaten, assault and even kill these children with the purpose of harming his partner or ex-partner.

This type of violence is called vicarious violence, which also includes the harm caused to children by the observation of abuse between parents. The psychological impact is what is sought, through control, submission and aggression to people who are not directly involved in the core of the conflict.

Caution: GBV is not just about partners

When we think of GBV, the first thing we think about is the existence of abuse in partner situations. However, gender violence is not specific to the couple, but can occur in multiple environments without the need for a spouse to carry it out. Institutions, the family and society in general can also be places where situations of gender-based violence appear such as the above.

It is necessary to work towards prevention and awareness, educating in different aspects such as tolerance to diversity, equal rights and opportunities and emotional education in order to avoid new situations of gender violence.

Bibliographic references:

  • Durán, M. (2004). Análisis jurídico-feminista de la Ley Orgánica de Medidas de Protección Integral contra la Violencia de Género. A gender perspective. Information Bulletin and Legal Analysis. Andalusian Institute for Women.
  • Kilmartin, C; Allison, J. A. (2007). Men’s Violence Against Women: Theory, Research, and Activism. Routledge.
  • Organic Law on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender Violence of 28 December 2004, BOE of 29 December 2004.
  • Lorente, M. (2001). My husband hits me the usual way. Aggression to women: realities and myths. Ares y Mares, Editorial Crítica, Madrid.
  • Pérez, J.M.; Montalvo, A. (2010). Gender violence: analysis and approach to its causes and consequences. Gender violence: prevention, detection and care. Editorial Group.