How Violent Are You?


new internationalist
issue 187 - September 1988

How violent are you?
Perhaps you think of yourself as a fairly reasonable, peace-loving
person - not given to violent behaviour. But what happens when you
are provoked? How would you react in the following situations?



You are taking part in an anti-racist march following the death of a black youth in police custody. On the side of the road a group of Neo-Nazis start hurling racist abuse and making 'Heil Hitler' salutes. Do you:

[image, unknown] 1. Go over and give them a good hiding.

2. Ignore them completely - and hope others do so too.

3. Try to restrain your fellow marchers from attacking them.

4. Make a cutting and derisory remark.

5. Tell police the saluters are threatening people with knives.

6. Hurl abuse back.

7. Go across and try to reason with them.

8. Ignore them - but secretly hope someone else does work them over.



You are out having a drink with a friend. It is the first time that she has been out since being brutally raped. A group of men are leaning against the bar within earshot of you. As an attractive woman comes through the door one of them exclaims: 'Look at that! Wouldn't kick her out of bed eh?' Do you:

1. Tip your drink over him.

2. Knee him in the groin.

3. Turn to him and say: 'Yes, that's the sort of comment sexual inadequates usually make.'

4. Tell him why you don't think he should make sexist comments

5. Ignore him and carry on talking to your friend in the hope that she didn't hear.

6. Deleting no expletives, tell him exactly what you think.

7. Kick his dog.

8. Ask him whether he feels let down by the women in his life.


You have two small sons - one aged six and one aged three. You can't remember when you last had an uninterrupted night. The three-year-old keeps wetting himself. The six-year-old keeps breaking things. And they both quarrel non-stop. You have a splitting headache - which the children interpret as a weakness to be exploited. But right now they are quiet. Too quiet. You go into the kitchen to find the 6-year-old just about to switch on the tumble drier in which he has placed his little brother. Having extracted the unfortunate infant, do you:

1. Give the six-year-old a belting.

2. Put him in the tumble-drier to show him what it feels like.

3. Scream at him until he is cowed and quivering.

4. Be severe with him and explain the dangers of what he did.

5. Comfort the three-year-old and ignore the six-year-old.

6. Refrain from punishing the six-year-old in any way but ask him why he did it.

7. Sigh and say to yourself, Oh, well. These things will happen.'

8. Hit the six-year-old, the three-year-old and the tumble dryer.



Your partner is doing their best to wind you up. They know the exact location of your weakest points and are probing them with ruthless expertise. You are trying not to rise to the occasion. This frustrates them so much they finally slap you across the face. Do you:

[image, unknown] 1. Slap back

2. Ask them why they did it.

3. Let rip with what you think of them.

4. Walk out, considering yourself above this kind of thing

5. Throw crockery and kick the cat.

6. Sulk for several days

7. Poke them in the eye.

8. Do nothing but assume you must have done something very wrong for them to treat you like this.



You have been deceived by somebody who has considerable power over you. When you confront them with this they neither deny your accusation nor offer an apology. They just laugh. Do you:

[image, unknown] 1. Punch them on the nose.

2. Walk out, vowing never to have anything to do with them again.

3. Keep a stiff upper lip and conceal your unhappiness

4. Find ways of cheating, humiliating and ridiculing them.

5. Appear detached and treat your abuser as 'a case' - to be pitied.

6. Say the nastiest, most personal, hurtful things you can.

7. Shrug your shoulders and get on with something else.

8. Vent your anger on someone less powerful than you.



You have accompanied a disabled, wheelchair-bound friend to a local fair. Some drunken youths are fooling around with fireworks, aiming lit rockets at each other and behaving in a threatening manner. Your friend gets hit by a firework. After checking to see whether they are hurt do you:

1. Move away without saying anything.

2. Thump the youth who let off the rocket

3. Compliment him on his IQ.

4. Seize the box of fireworks and dispose of them.

5. Blame yourself for having put your friend at risk

6. Shout at the organizers/bar staff.

7. Say nothing to the youths but look for the police.

8. Tell the youths they nearly caused a serious injury.


You are driving fast along a busy road when the driver of the car in front suddenly brakes and starts to do a U-turn. You take evasive action and scrape a heavy goods truck parked in a lay by. Do you:

[image, unknown] 1. Drag the driver out of his car and hit him.

2. Tell him that a *!*!*!*!* idiot like him shouldn't be trusted with a tricycle.

3. Breathe deeply and count yourself lucky to be alive.

4. Ask him if he is aware that other people, apart from himself use this road and they would probably prefer not to die just yet

5. Tell him that he nearly killed you.

6. Ask the other driver if he is feeling all right or whether he did this silly thing because he was upset

7. Report him to the police and do all in your power to get him banned from driving.

8. Kick in the headlights of his car.



You are out shopping with a fractious child. The traffic is heavy but she repeatedly ignores your warnings to 'keep in'. Suddenly she dashes into the road and you only just stop her falling under the wheels of a bus. The child giggles nervously. Do you:

1. Smile and say. Now that was a narrow miss, wasn't it dear?

2. Wallop her.

3. Shout at her until her giggles turn to tears.

4. Moan: 'I don't know what to do with you'.

5. Hurl abuse at the bus-driver.

6. Scold her severely but also feel annoyed with yourself for not having more control.

7. Tell her you don't know why you rescued her. She deserves to be run over.

8. Shake her and frighten her as much as she frightened you.

Which letter features most?

If you find one recurs more than any other you probably fit into the following categories. If you find that you have a complete cross-section of letters it means you are a complex (or confused?) individual who does not respond well to silly quizzes!

Answers to situations.

[image, unknown]
1 = B
2 = E
3 = G
4 = D
5 = F
6 = A
7 = H
8 = C
[image, unknown]
1 = B
2 = A
3 = F
4 = G
5 = E
6 = D
7 = C
8 = H
[image, unknown]
1 = A
2 = B
3 = D
4 = G
5 = F
6 = H
7 = E
8 = C
[image, unknown]
1 = B
2 = G
3 = D
4 = E
5 = C
6 = F
7 = A
8 = H
[image, unknown]
1 = A
2 = G
3 = H
4 = B
5 = F
6 = D
7 = E
8 = C
[image, unknown]
1 = E
2 = A
3 = D
4 = B
5 = H
6 = C
7 = F
8 = G
[image, unknown]
1 = A
2 = D
3 = E
4 = F
5 = G
6 = H
7 = B
8 = C
[image, unknown]
1 = H
2 = A
3 = D
4 = E
5 = C
6 = G
7 = F
8 = B

A: Phew! Being in a confined space with you on a bad day is not advisable. You believe in hitting back - with interest. Your responses are generally over-the-top and controlling your temper must be quite a struggle.

B: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth seems to be your motto. At least you are direct in your violence, though. Unlike ...

C: You are bad news. You project your anger against one person onto others. And you tend to lash out indiscriminately. This is one of the most damaging types of violence and, for those around you, the hardest to deal with.

D: Tongue and lungs are your main weapons. You go in for verbal violence and believe in speaking (or shouting) your mind. But shooting your mouth off can have devastating consequences too.

E: You're cool, baby. Maybe too cool. Your passivity verges on total indifference. If you don't stand up for yourself you probably don't stand up for anyone else either.

F: Now, you're a cunning one. You do not appear violent, but that is only because you are very good at veiling your aggression. You are quite calculating and manipulative too.

G: Not much to say about you except you seem rather reasonable. Perhaps you are a bit of a liar'?

H: You are so meek, mild, soft conciliatory and self-blaming you should either consider assertiveness training - or simply stop being such a drivelling little hypocrite.

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