Companion animals delay women leaving domestic violence

October 9, 2017, University of Queensland
Companion animals delay women leaving domestic violence
Violent partners exploit the relationship between owners and their companion animals. Credit: University of Queensland

Women in domestic violence relationships delay leaving due to concern their abusive partner might hurt or neglect their animals left at home.

A research team from The University of Queensland examined the impact domestic had on and how this affected the victim's decisions.

Dr Catherine Tiplady from the School of Veterinary Science said from the 13 participants in the study all reported their companion animals were abused or threatened by abusive male partners and they delayed leaving due to concerns their partner would hurt their animals.

"The types of physical animal abuse included kicking, hitting, and throwing, as well as 'forced intimacy' by forcing a cat to lay with the abusive male 'until she gave up'," Dr Tiplady said.

"One of the participants in the study said she delayed leaving for just over nine years, at which stage she elected to euthanise all three dogs because she couldn't take them with her, and to leave them with her partner would have led to them being harmed as punishment for her leaving."

Dr Deborah Walsh from UQ's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work said a consistent theme across animal abuse cases connected to domestic violence was the violent partner exploiting the close relationship between the woman and her companion animal in an attempt to gain power and control over her.

"In some cases animals act protectively toward the woman and pay the ultimate price for that act," Dr Walsh said.

"One of the most concerning results we found was some animals developed a generalised fear toward all men after they had been harmed.

"Most of the animals went on to have high levels of anxiety and fear-based behaviours long after the woman and the animals had left the violent ."

The study highlighted the need for more education to be provided through domestic violence organisations about where they can go to seek help for their .

"Many women used animal fostering, however they found the duration was insufficient and expressed anxiety about the need to find safe, animal-friendly accommodation within the 28 fostering days available for women in refuge," Dr Walsh said.

"We also found very few women were willing to confide in veterinarians about the domestic violence and animal abuse.

"Veterinarians need to be educated on issues regarding animal guardianship during to enhance their ability to provide knowledgeable and compassionate support when confronted with these cases in practice."

The team of researchers included Dr Walsh, Dr Tiplady and Professor Clive Phillips from UQ's Centre of Animal Welfare and Ethics.

The study was published in Society and Animals.

Explore further: Teens and domestic violence

More information: C.M. Tiplady et al. "The Animals are All I Have," Society & Animals (2017). DOI: 10.1163/15685306-12341464

Related Stories

Teens and domestic violence

October 5, 2017
October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness month, and although domestic violence is mostly associated with adults, an expert at Baylor College of Medicine says teens too often experience this type of abuse.

Fears for pets can put abused women at further risk, according to research

June 27, 2017
As researchers looking into the intersection of abuse against people and animals, we asked survivors of intimate partner violence in shelters across Canada about a normally pleasant topic: their pets.

Can vets help fight domestic violence by identifying pet abuse?

August 18, 2014
Pet abuse and domestic violence are closely linked. Animals can't talk but University of Sydney vet Dr Lydia Tong has shown vets how to tell the difference between bone fractures caused by accidents and those caused by abuse. ...

Why gender can't be ignored when dealing with domestic violence

March 28, 2017
Domestic violence is a violation of human rights with damaging social, economic and health consequences. It is any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. That abuse can be psychological, ...

Recommended for you

New study finds concurrent use of prescription drugs and dietary supplements could pose health risks

September 25, 2018
A new University of Hertfordshire study found that using certain over-the-counter herbal medicines and dietary supplements alongside prescription drugs could pose serious health risks, especially amongst older adults.

India launches 'Modicare', world's biggest health scheme

September 23, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched the world's biggest health insurance scheme, promising free coverage for half a billion of India's poorest citizens ahead of national elections next year.

It's not just for kids—even adults appear to benefit from a regular bedtime

September 21, 2018
Sufficient sleep has been proven to help keep the body healthy and the mind sharp. But it's not just an issue of logging at least seven hours of Z's.

Most nations falling short of UN targets to cut premature deaths from chronic diseases

September 21, 2018
People in the UK, US and China have a higher risk of dying early from conditions like cancer, heart disease and stroke than people in Italy, France, South Korea and Australia.

Alcohol responsible for one in 20 deaths worldwide: WHO

September 21, 2018
Alcohol kills three million people worldwide each year—more than AIDS, violence and road accidents combined, the World Health Organization said Friday, adding that men are particularly at risk.

Patient-centered visual aid helps physicians discuss risks, treatments with parents

September 21, 2018
A series of illustrations and charts designed as decision aids for parents of children with minor head injuries helped them communicate with emergency medicine physicians and make informed decisions about their child's care, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.