Pets make great companions. They are part of the family unit for many people. As such, many pet owners want to protect and care for them to the best of their ability, even at the risk of their own safety. Sadly, animals also become victims of domestic violence and the reason some pet owners stay in abusive relationships.
- 71% of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser had threatened, injured or killed family pets. 15
- 85% of domestic violence shelters report that they commonly encounter women who speak about pet abuse incidents. 16
- Abusers demonstrate power and control over their family by threatening, harming or killing animals. 17
- Up to 40% of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusers because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave. 18
Pets become pawns in abusive relationships. Abusers harm or threaten to harm pets in order to:
- create an environment of fear
- demonstrate power and control
- force the victim to submit
- prevent the victim from leaving the relationship or coercing him/her to return
- punish the victim for wanting independence or for leaving the relationship
- isolate the victim
Threats or acts of violence toward pets should be taken seriously. Even if your partner has never assaulted you, an attack on your pet could mean you and your children could be next. In addition, children who witness animal cruelty are also at risk of becoming offenders toward animals and people. And losing a family pet can be extremely traumatic for a pet owner, especially for children.