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Understanding the Links

It is becoming more and more common that family pets are used as a tool to manipulate and control victims of domestic violence. In fact, evidence of the links between child abuse, animal abuse and domestic violence is becoming increasingly apparent and there is growing evidence to confirm these beliefs.

Abuse to children, vulnerable adults or animals can have damaging and devastating effects for the victims, their families and wider society. If you are faced with this situation and don’t know where to turn, don’t worry help is at hand. There are organisations that can give you and your family safe refuge whilst at the same time, looking after the family pet.

  • Where serious animal abuse has occurred in a household there may be an increased likelihood that some other form of family violence is also occurring.
  • It is also apparent that children may be at increased risk of abuse in this environment.
  • Acts of animal abuse may in some circumstances be used to coerce, control and intimidate women and children to remain in, or be silent about, their abusive situation. The threat or actual abuse of a pet can prevent women from leaving situations of domestic violence.

Case Study

The Importance of Pet Fostering

Joanna’s domestic violence key worker contacted the Pet Fostering Service explaining she had been working with Joanna for the past six months, but Joanna would not leave her violent home until something could be sorted out for her two beloved dogs, Ruby and Toby.

Referral forms were faxed and returned the same day. Arrangements were made to meet Joanna with Ruby and Toby the following day while she was on her way to the refuge. Obviously, she was very upset about parting with them, but knew it was the only way they would all be safe. Ruby and Toby jumped into the van and settled down together.

On arrival at the foster carer’s house Ruby and Toby explored their new environment and within a couple of hours had made themselves quite at home, with Ruby on the sofa and Toby curled up on the rug in front of the fire.

Joanna was offered a property within a few months and once she had settled in, was reunited her with her dogs.

"He held my daughters’ pets out of the upstairs window, and threatened to drop them if we did not return home."