Do you make a distinction between hitting back in self defense and hitting back in retaliation?

I’ve read many responses to questions about men hitting women (who had hit the men first).

But certainly, hitting in retaliation (“don’t dish it out if you can’t take it”) must be fundamentally different than hitting in self defense (“my life has been genuinely threatened”).

I imagine that there must be scenarios of hitting back that is in retaliation, but not self defense. Likewise, I imagine that there must be scenarios of hitting back that is in self defense, but not retaliation.

What do you think? Do you differentiate between self defense and retaliation in physical altercations?

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11 Responses to Do you make a distinction between hitting back in self defense and hitting back in retaliation?

  1. mischiefsw says:

    Absolutely. Hitting in retaliation is never justified. Hitting in self-defense is, in certain circumstances where someone’s life is in danger.

  2. thing 55001 says:

    Of course, that’s why one is called ‘self defence’ ~ it means defending yourself from attack (the law generally accepts “with equal force”).

    It’s fairly obvious there is a difference, which is why it’s acknowledged in law.

    However, hitting back in ‘retaliation’ does not necessarily mean someone is spoiling for a brawl ~ retaliation itself means responding to something, so if the person is “retaliating” we know something has gone before which has caused the person to respond.

    For example, if some one is attacked they may retaliate in self defense. So, what went BEFORE the retaliation is the indicator of whether or not the retaliation was justified.

    Someone who is simply looking for a fight or testing their strength would be more likely to hit in an unprovoked or reckless manner.

    Cheers :-)

  3. Jane says:

    When you put that way,I would have to say hitting back is retaliation. Self defense would be restraining someone from hitting you or fighting them off if they keep coming at you.

  4. calzrhe says:

    Yeah, but sometimes there’s a thin blurry line between self-defense and retaliation. Like when someone’s choking you and you beat him off of you, that’s obviously self defense. Or if someone’s got a knife and swings and misses, and you grab a brick and smash his face and then stomp on his wrist until he lets go of the knife, that’s mutual combat. You have to get hit twice and then retaliate before it’s considered self-defense. Get hit once and you hit back then it’s mutual combat.

    Say if someone keeps harassing you by battery and won’t stop, then eventually you hit them to send a clearer message. That would technically be retaliation, but you did it to stop the harassment. If you broke his ribs, on the other hand, then he might sue.

  5. wendy g says:

    Of course, but some do seem incapable of making these distinctions. Chalk it up to low intelligence or immaturity, I guess.

    A perfect example would be the Rhianna/Chris Brown thing. So many people, men AND women (or I should say boys and girls), posted that Chris beat the bloody mess out of Rhianna “in self defense,” based on some (questionable) reports that she had hit him first, or threw his phone at him. BUT, self defense occurs when you feel like you MUST fight back in order to save yourself from further injury or assault. The beating that he gave her was NOT a “self-defense” response, it was pure out-of-control rage. He did not feel like his life or bodily integrity was in danger, he was just pissed off, and used her as a punching bag to alleviate his rage.

    THAT is the difference. If you feel you are in danger, and fight back to ensure you are not injured further, THAT is self defense. Striking another person just because they struck you, when there is no further danger, is NOT self defense. Beating the crap out of someone because they threw a phone at you will land you in jail, not get you out of trouble because it was “self defense.” And it’s really important that kids know the difference (since it was mainly kids who were posting that Chris acting in “self defense”).

  6. valeriamilian says:

    Self-defense means your(or someone else’s, as far as I know) physical integrity or life are in immediate danger. I’m not exactly sure, but I think the law says something about protecting your assets, as well-this probably differs from country to country.
    If someone weaker than me hits me, like a child or a weaker woman or man, I am not entitled to hit them back just because I got angry.
    When, on the other hand, someone keeps hitting me or has a weapon with which they are coming toward me and I have no other means of escape, I need to hit them in order to escape danger.

    EDIT: @calzrhe”You have to get hit twice and then retaliate before it’s considered self-defense. Get hit once and you hit back then it’s mutual combat.”
    I don’t know where you got that from, but if you wait for someone to hit you when they are swinging toward you, you might not need to “be hit twice”. You’re very likely to be knocked out from the beginning, and you’ve lost your chance at self-defense.
    This is important in the case of rape, the male attacker will only need to hit the woman once and she’s out cold. It’s also logical in any other instances involving an attacker that clearly overpowers his/her victim-by shere body strength or a weapon or in the case of multiple attackers.

    Excellent question and nicely phrased!

  7. Sam says:

    hitting in retaliation is like if you were to hit me I would hit you back and be like “no”. Self defense is when someone is putting your life in danger and the only way of avoiding this danger is self defense. Thus being said there are abuses to both of these. Like you heat me then I beat the shit out of you is an abuse. Or some one comes at you with a bat hits you once and you deck him (knock him out) and you continue to beat him up until he is dead. These are both abuse of these terms.

  8. xampayne 2 says:

    I can understand hitting in retaliation, in the heat of the moment, but it’s not really acceptable outside of the boxing ring. Hitting someone in self defence, enough to get them out of the way so you can escape–that’s fair enough. Even lethal force if circumstances warrant it.

    Know It All: why would men need to learn to make anything “look like self-defence”? If it’s actual self-defence, you’re not really going to be planning the presentation–you’ll be concerned with survival. If it’s not self defence, then it’s assault or murder. Making assault or murder look like self-defence is called “perverting the course of justice”.

  9. Notorious P.I.G says:

    Depends, if a person who has been vanquished and no longer posing a threat after initially posing a threat, I see no need to continue.

    If a Woman ever hit me I would not hit her back ( unless she had a weapon) , but I would absolutely have her arrested.

  10. HatrickP says:

    I say the fault in any conflict, physical or otherwise, lies with the person who sparked it off. Every conflict in the world is the result of cause and effect. The person who was responsible for the initial cause is the person who bears responsibility for how big the chain gets.

  11. KatieMedic says:

    I know most of this has already been said, but I don’t think it can be said enough.

    There is a HUGE difference between retaliation and self-defense, and it’s really simple.

    “I am assaulting you to prevent you from further assaulting me, with the genuine belief that A) you intend to further assault me, and B) my best way of ensuring my safety is to assault you.” THAT is self-defense.

    “You have made me angry. I feel the need to punish you for that. I do not feel you are a continuing threat and/or I have other options for safety, but choose to assault you to serve my emotional needs.” THAT is retaliation.

    An extra pop in the middle of a struggle doesn’t turn self-defense into retaliation — very few people can completely keep their heads in the middle of being in fear and struggling against an attacker. Continuing when there is no longer a threat IS.

    Striking someone who you are not in genuine and immediate fear of, or instead of taking other options for safety if they are more effective, is always wrong, and I don’t care which gender the attacker or defender is. And even in terror, you don’t have the right to keep inflicting damage once the attacker ceases to be a threat.

    (You don’t have the right to shoot him because he punched you. You don’t have the right to break her jaw because she left finger welts on your face. You both have the right to call the police.)

    Whoever above me said the equivalent of “who cares if you pinched me and I killed you, you still started it!” needs to immediately find a pair of big boy pants.

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