There's no one sort of violent attack; violence occurs a spectrum. However, it's important to distinguish violence from what Rory Miller calls a "monkey dance." A monkey dance is about status, not really hurting someone. There are unwritten rules in a monkey dance, and you violate those rules at the risk of social sanction. The college jock who beats the stereotypical nerd senseless doesn't gain status; he's laughed at. Here are two examples of monkey dances getting stopped short... There may be inappropriate language in either; view at your own risk or turn your speakers off.
In both cases -- you see the Monkey Dance building, and then one of the people stops playing. I'm not justifying or defending the actions of anyone involved; I don't know enough of the circumstances. But in both, you see one person escalating, putting on a show. Then the other person has enough -- and stops the whole dance.
If you remain calm, and recognize when a Monkey Dance is starting, you have opportunities to stop it. You can escalate to more force, quicker, and end the dance that way. It's sometimes the right thing to do. But... you're not limited to pulling out the big guns, either. You may be able to disengage or defuse the situation without force, too. And it's important to at least make the effort -- when it is safe to do so.