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Domestic Violence & Pets

by Judith Snyder-Wagner on March 21st, 2017

Facts about the Link Between Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty

Why it Matters

  • Most U.S. households have pets, and pets are often considered part of the family. Recognizing the bonds between victims and their pets, many batterers threaten, harm, and kill pets in the home in order to control, intimidate, and retaliate against their victims.
  • 71% of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their abuser had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims. 32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals.
  • 68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women and 75% in the presence of the children, to psychologically control and coerce them.
  • 13% of intentional animal abuse cases are associated with acts of domestic violence.
  • Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their companion animals or livestock should they leave.
  • Pets may suffer unexplained injuries, health problems, permanent disabilities at the hands of abusers, or disappear from home.
  • Abusers kill, harm, and threaten children’s pets to coerce children into being silent about the domestic violence in the home.
  • Children kill or harm animals to emulate their parents’ conduct, to prevent the abuser from killing the pet, or to take out their aggressions on another victim.
  • Domestic violence victims whose animals were abused saw the animal cruelty as one more violent episode in a long history of indiscriminate violence.
  • According to Dr. Philip Arkow, talking to children about how adults at home treat pets, children can unintentionally reveal child abuse. “In many cases, they don’t know it’s animal abuse. Kids think, ‘That’s just the way my family treats animals.’ They release information about patterns of control at home that you might not get otherwise.”

Adopted from Facts About Animal Abuse & Domestic Violence – American Humane Association in association with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

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