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Pet Abuse is Domestic Abuse

People who abuse want power and control over others. They may want to retaliate or show another person they are next. To force a person to watch abuse is a form of abuse. Pet abuse is domestic abuse. It can cause health problems. Studies show that a person who abuses a pet may also abuse their partner.

Human and animal victims can both suffer these types of abuse and more:

  • Neglect or being ignored.ii
  • Being ganged up on by more than one abuser.iii 
  • Sexual or physical abuse.
  • Kept from access to medicine or health care.
  • Kept from access to food, water or safe shelter.
  • Being yelled at, insulted or scared on purpose.

Another abuse tactic is to remove a pet from the home and not tell where it is. There may be times when a victim is forced to abuse a pet to protect it from torture or death by an abuser. They may be forced to abuse a pet to protect their child. One quarter of children whose mothers were abused saw their family pet threatened, abused or killed as a way to control the mother.iv Pets and children share a special bond and abuse using pets causes deep trauma.v

Pet abuse trauma can cause health or social problems such asvi:

  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Post-traumatic stress.
  • Aggression.
  • Lack of emotions or ability to pay attention.vii

To find the domestic abuse program nearest you, visit http://www.pcadv.org and click on Find Help or use the Find Help map on the home page.


iMerz-Perez, Linda & Heide, Kathleen. (2004). Animal cruelty: Pathway to violence against people. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.

iiMcKinnis, Susan. (2016). Unlinking the chain: How animal abuse intersects with domestic violence. Webinar. New Castle, PA: Crisis Center of Lawrence County.

iiiIbid.

ivCompanion Animal Psychology. (2016). Children’s experiences of domestic violence and animal abuse. Retrieved from http://www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2016/03/childrens-experiences-of-domestic.html

vIbid.

viMcDonald, Shelby E. & Dmitrieva, Julia & Shin, Sunny & A. Hitti, Stephanie & Graham-Bermann, Sandra & R Ascione, Frank & Herbert Williams, James. (2017). The role of callous/unemotional traits in mediating the association between animal abuse exposure and behavior problems among children exposed to intimate partner violence. Child Abuse & Neglect. 72. 421-432. 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.09.004.

viiIbid.