An injury received by the victim of an attack while trying to defend against the assailant. These are often found on the hands and forearms, because the victim has raised them to protect the head and face. Defensive wounds may also be present on the feet and legs if a victim attempts to defend themselves while lying down and kicking out at the assailant.
The appearance and nature of the wound varies with the type of weapon used and may present as a laceration, abrasion, contusion or bone fracture. Severe laceration of the surface of the hand or partial amputation of fingers may result from the victim grasping the blade of a weapon during an attack. In forensic pathology the presence of defense wounds is indicative of homicide and also proves that the victim was conscious and resisted during the attack. Defense wounds may be active or passive. A victim of a knife attack, for example, would receive active defense wounds from grasping at the knife’s blade, and passive defense wounds on the back of the hand if it was raised up to protect the face.