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What’s the Difference Between Violence and Abuse?

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Posted By McAdams Law | September 21 2023 | Blog, Domestic Violence, Felonies

The words violence and abuse are often confused, but they have different meanings. Initially, the distinctions between the two may not appear monumental, but accusations of one of these acts should be taken seriously in Colorado.

Confusing the two words happens because they are used interchangeably in conversation, by organizations, and by legal entities. Let’s examine their definitions and the characteristics that set each action apart.


Using physical force to cause damage, harm, or to kill is violence. Violence is often sporadic and does not normally occur continually. Continued violence begins to resemble abuse. Anyone can commit acts of violence, and there are several common types of violence.


Domestic violence occurs in the home setting and is often referred to as family violence or domestic abuse. This action typically occurs between partners or people living in the same home. One individual in the domestic setting often performs acts intended to harm others in that environment, or multiple individuals act out against each other.

Violence is not gender-specific, and children, spouses, or older adults can suffer from this form of violence.


An act aimed at injuring, hurting, or killing someone is considered physical violence. Many actions can be categorized under this type of violence. Some of the actions that may equal physical violence include:

  • Hitting or punching
  • Choking
  • Kicking or tripping
  • Burning
  • Pushing or grabbing
  • Hair pulling

This list is not exhaustive of acts considered physical violence.


Any sexual act performed without consent is classified as sexual violence. This act does not have to involve a stranger and is often committed by a friend, spouse, coworker, or family member. Acts of sexual violence can take the form of:

  • Unwanted touching
  • Nonconsensual sex
  • The sharing of intimate photos without permission
  • Exposing another individual to pornographic material without their consent

Sexual violence is common and often happens early in an individual’s life. Anyone can commit sexual violence, but it is more commonly committed against specific groups of people.


Acts of abuse are actions performed over prolonged periods, often as a pattern, to maintain control and power over the victim, resulting in emotional and physical traumas experienced by the victim. These acts are often more commonly committed by individuals the victim has known for some time. Abuse can be characterized in many ways, such as:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Emotional
  • Psychological
  • Financial
  • Verbal

Acts of abuse can be directed at anyone and performed by both men and women.

Accusations of Violence and Abuse in Colorado

An evening out with friends may turn heated when friends are watching a ballgame, too much alcohol is involved, and a rival team’s fan sparks anger with their comments. Violence may ensue from the interaction and can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. The charge will depend on the act.

Abuse may take the form of child abuse or domestic abuse, happening over weeks, months, or years. Elder abuse, like a child and domestic abuse, can be characterized similarly in nature as the characteristics previously mentioned. Colorado’s stance against domestic abuse is staunch.

Individuals accused of violence or abuse in Colorado are innocent until proven guilty and deserve fair representation under the law.

Greeley, CO Criminal Defense Attorneys

McAdams Law Firm understands that charges of violence and abuse can have lasting impacts on a life. These charges are defensible and should be taken seriously.

Our Colorado Criminal defense attorneys treat each client with respect, working to build a solid and personalized defense in each case.

If you have been charged with a crime, schedule a free consultation so that we can understand your needs and explain how we are here to provide expert legal representation and ensure the best outcome in your case.

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