Domestic Violence: Definition, Causes, Facts & History

Domestic Violence: Definition, Causes, Facts & History
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  • 0:03 Defining Domestic Violence
  • 1:21 History
  • 2:03 Causes
  • 2:46 Facts
  • 3:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Janell Blanco
This lesson will provide the definition for domestic violence. It will also explore the history, causes, and facts about domestic violence. A short quiz on the subject matter will follow the lesson.

Defining Domestic Violence

It has been a long, cold winter, and you are getting that cooped-up feeling. There has been enough rain and snow to keep you in the house for the last few months. As you're looking out the window waiting for the clouds to move past the sun, you hear screams coming from the home next door. Before you have time to think, your neighbor is running into your house and locking the door. She has bruises starting to form on her cheek; she is bleeding from her lip; she is shaking in fear and begs you to call the police. She tells you that she is three months pregnant, and her husband just turned into a monster. As you dial 9-1-1, you look out the window again to see her husband retreating into his house.

The police arrive within minutes to assess the situation. One officer is in your home with the victim. He is telling her the rights she has as a victim of domestic violence. The officer then asks your neighbor if she wants to press charges. While the officer talks to your neighbor, you're standing by her side, holding her hand. You wait for the paramedics and for her family to arrive. Your heart aches. You have a horrible feeling in your stomach, and you're hoping that your neighbor will be fine after this.

Your neighbor has just survived domestic violence, which is also known as intimate partner violence. Domestic violence is physical, sexual, mental, or emotional abuse caused by a loved one or intimate partner.


Domestic violence has occurred in homes throughout the world for several decades. In 1993, the Violence Against Women Act was put into place. This was put into place to increase the safety of women and to help law enforcement agencies respond to domestic violence calls. Since the establishment of the Violence Against Women Act, each state has been responsible for making their own laws about domestic violence. In Massachusetts, both the abuser and the victim are arrested, while in Illinois only the abuser is arrested. Additionally, domestic violence can occur between same-sex couples as well as heterosexual couples, which is why law enforcement agencies and the FBI are using the term intimate partner violence.


So, why did the neighbor's husband hurt her as badly as he did? What made him hit her so hard that she was bloodied and bruised and running with fear in her eyes to your home? We may never know exactly why each case of domestic violence occurs, because there is not a specific cause for domestic violence - but there are contributing factors. The contributing factors can increase the chances that domestic violence will occur in the relationship.

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