Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence
Researchers have documented a strong connection between animal abuse and domestic violence.
- A study from 11 U.S. cities revealed that a history of pet abuse is one of the four most significant indicators of who is at greatest risk of becoming a domestic batterer.
- A Texas study found that batterers who also abuse pets are more dangerous and use more violent and controlling behaviors than those who do not harm animals.
- Twelve separate studies have reported that between 18 and 48 percent of battered women, and their children, delay leaving abusive situations in fear for what might happen to their animals.
- Women who do seek safety at shelters are nearly 11 times more likely to report that their partner has hurt or killed their animals than women who have not experienced domestic abuse.
- In Wisconsin, 68 percent of battered women revealed that abusive partners had also been violent toward pets or livestock; more than three-quarters of these cases occurred in the presence of the women and/or children to intimidate and control them.
- Children who are exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to be cruel to animals.
- The Chicago Police Department found that approximately 30 percent of individuals arrested for dog fighting and animal abuse had domestic violence charges on their records.
Why it Matters
- 71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer 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 involve domestic violence.
- Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets 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, or threaten children’s pets to coerce them into sexual abuse or to force them to remain silent about abuse. Disturbed 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.
- In one study, 70% of animal abusers also had records for other crimes. Domestic violence victims whose animals were abused saw the animal cruelty as one more violent episode in a long history of indiscriminate violence aimed at them and their vulnerability.
- For many battered women, pets are sources of comfort providing strong emotional support: 98% of Americans consider pets to be companions or members of the family.
- Animal cruelty problems are people problems. When animals are abused, people are at risk.
- Battered women have been known to live in their cars with their pets for as long as four months until an opening was available at a pet-friendly safe house.
Did You Know?
- More American households have pets than have children.
- A child growing up in the U.S. is more likely to have a pet than a live-at-home father.
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