Stab Wound

August 13, 2009 at 10:02 am | Posted in The Knave | Leave a comment

When someone plunges a knife into you chest multiple times, the result is something called “stab wounds”. A knife is not necessarily the only way that you can get a stab wound, but it is certainly the most popular. Stab wounds should not be confused with other related forms of personal injury such as contusions, puncture wounds, slicing wounds, projectile wounds, stake wounds, and impalements. 

A contusion—if intentionally perpetrated, i.e. not caused by an accident—is basically a failed stab.  If you are hit in the chest with a cobblestone, you will be bruised and the attacker could possibly pummel you to death, but you won’t have been stabbed, you would only have been contused.  Cop shows like to call this “blunt force trauma.”  The key here is that to do a proper stabbing, you need something relatively sharp.  You can stab with a rock, but a cobblestone is too rounded.  A sharpened piece of flint stabs very nicely and was a preferred method of murdering people among our ancient ancestors.

Puncture wounds are very similar to stab wounds, but there are very distinct differences.  A puncture wound just has to pierce the skin. Stab wounds are always deep.  Also, there is a difference in intent. A phlebotomist drawing blood creates a puncture wound when she draws blood.  You could say that the needle punctured your skin, but you couldn’t seriously claim to the police that you had been stabbed.  However, if that same needle were to be thrust into your eyeball by a meth-head aromatherapist having a bad day, you could claim that you had been stabbed in the eye with a needle.  Similarly, if you are chipping a block of ice to make margaritas and you slip and fall so that the ice pick penetrates your chest, it is still only a puncture wound, because there was no intent to stab.  Only when your spouse decides to finish you off, because you bled on the new carpet, can you consider yourself to have been well and properly stabbed.

Slicing wounds (sometimes called slashing or slitting wounds depending on the size of the weapon) not only penetrate the skin, but cut along it and often cut through flesh and muscle as well.  Sometimes a stab can turn into a slice if the victim won’t be still while your knife is plunged into their esophagus or other body part.  Stab wounds are only the size of the weapon with which you did the stabbing, whereas a slicing wound could extend from a person’s big toe, all the way up the left leg, the stomach, the chest, cut up along the neck and chin, through the cheeks, between the eyes, over the skull, to the nape of the neck, and then continue down the back, right buttock and leg to the other big toe.  Really, while slicing someone up, there is no real reason to ever withdraw the knife from their body unless you get tired or get caught on a bone or are going for a specific artistic pattern of cuts or something.

Projectile wounds are caused when something is thrown, dropped, shot, or otherwise propelled into the victim. Stabbing is hands-on, while projectiles are hands-off.  Some implements could be used either way, so it is really only whether or not you are holding the weapon when it penetrates the skin that makes the distinction.  It would be possible to stab someone with an arrow, or to throw a knife at a person you really dislike or who won’t turn right on red even though there is no traffic coming and it is perfectly legal in your municipality and that damn light has been red forever.  It is not always the case though that a weapon can be used to stab or to project.  For example, you could not stab someone with a .357 magnum bullet or even with the pistol itself.  You would be forced to commit your murder by shooting the round from the gun.

Stake wounds occur when you use a hammer or some other object to pound a weapon into a person.  Some confusion is caused by the fact that a short, sharpened piece of wood is referred to as a “stake”.  Many believe that using this as a weapon to attack a vampire or weremongoose is staking, but it is actually stabbing with a stake, which is very different.  The hammering of the stake, knife, or other pointy object into the victim with a rock or anvil or other heavy object is intrinsic staking someone and not just stabbing them.

Impalements are essentially super duper stabbings.  They are stab wounds that go clear through the body.  You can impale someone on a sword, a spear, a spit, or a pole.  Impaling was popularized by Vlad the 3rd of Wallachia, who considered impaling his enemies on tall poles so that they slowly slid down dead to ground to be the height of dinner theater.  Nowadays, impaling is thought to be passé and so 15th Century.  Stabbing is much preferred, because it is very difficult to conceal in you biking shorts a weapon long enough to impale someone.  Impaling has to be done to the trunk of the body.  You would never say that you impaled someone’s ring finger with a straight pin.  If you are looking at some dead telephone repairman behind a discount tattoo and dentistry parlor, and you see that there is a rebar going right through his chest and out his back, it is much more likely that he fell on the thing than that someone actually impaled him.

So, to summarize, stab wounds are caused by intentionally plunging sharp pointy things deep into a body by hand, but not through to the other side and without pounding the weapon deeper into the victim with another object or cutting an entry site larger than the object with which you are stabbing. No one is accidentally stabbed.  You can claim all you want that you didn’t know your boss was going to come out of her office at 5pm and that you were just casually practicing your Ginsu thrusting when you stabbed her by mistake, but it is not going to fly.  And although you might say you stabbed yourself in your thigh with your pen accidentally, it is only a puncture wound unless your deep-seated self-hate compelled you to stab yourself for being such a chucklehead. – The Knave

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