Aggravated assault involves violently attacking and inflicting severe bodily harm on a victim, often involving the use of a deadly weapon. This serious felony crime has lasting traumatic effects on victims and communities.
But what motivates someone to carry out such vicious acts? Here we explore some of the key factors that can lead to aggravated assaults.
Poverty & Social Inequality
Low socioeconomic status and lack of access to resources have been linked to higher rates of violent crimes like aggravated assault.
- Living in extreme, chronic poverty brings increased stress, despair, and conflict that can manifest in violence.
- Lack of consistent legal employment leads some to criminal activity to generate income.
- Dropping out of school limits opportunities. Educational failures breed frustration.
- Perceived social exclusion, discrimination, and lack of social mobility can lead to anti-social acts.
While poverty itself does not excuse violence, difficult socioeconomic circumstances can drive people to aggression. Alleviating poverty and inequality are vital for reducing crime.
Substance Abuse & Addiction
Many aggravated assaults involve attackers who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Intoxication Impairs Judgment
- When inebriated, people are less likely to control violent impulses.
Need to Fund Addiction
- Addicts sometimes commit crimes to get money for their next high.
- Deals gone bad or fights over money/drugs can escalate to murderous violence.
Mental Health Issues
Mental illness is often an underlying factor in aggravated assaults.
Schizophrenia & Psychosis
- Auditory hallucinations may drive some to lash out violently against perceived threats.
- Irrational suspicion rooted in mental illness can lead to unprovoked attacks.
Unmanaged Anger Issues
- Impulse control problems, misplaced rage, aggression manifest violently.
- Antisocial, narcissistic and borderline personality disorders are associated with increased risk of criminal violence when coupled with substance abuse.
Gang Activity & Culture
Gang membership is a huge risk factor due to the criminal lifestyle and violence exposure.
- Recruits may be forced to commit crimes like assault to prove themselves.
Code of Retaliation
- Failure to avenge a fellow member’s death or attack can warrant punishment.
- Gangs assault and murder to retain territory, settle disputes, and maintain reputation.
- Unquestioning mentality leads members to blindly follow orders even if it means committing acts of violence.
A majority of aggravated assaults stem from violence between intimate partners and family members.
Power & Control
- Abusers assault victims to exert and reinforce dominance through fear.
- Perceived threats to the relationship can incite raging violence.
- Without intervention, abuse that starts as threats often becomes life-threatening.
- Victims who fight back against their abuser are often then assaulted more severely.
Cycles of Violence
- Children exposed to violence in the home learn to perpetuate aggressive behavior.
Violent assaults are often fueled by bigotry toward marginalized groups.
- Centuries of ingrained societal racism manifests in attacks on people of color.
- Anti-gay hatred leads some to commit assault against LGBTQ people.
- Extremist beliefs can drive followers to brutally target other faiths.
- Sentiments against immigrants, refugees, or foreigners can turn violent.
While no factor alone predetermines someone will commit aggravated assault, recognizing the contributing influences can help prevent violence through education, awareness, policy reform, and access to mental health & substance abuse treatment. Addressing systemic social issues is key to reducing aggravated assaults long-term.