In domestic violence households, gifted animals are abused 94% of the time

In research carried out by Dr. Mary Wakeham, formerly of Bristol University, on the link between domestic violence and animal abuse, they found that in 94% of domestic violence households were an animal was given as a gift the animals were then abused and in some cases killed by the perpetrator of the domestic violence. I find the percentage astonishing but I don't find the link surprising. We know that pets are used as tools by the perpetrators of domestic violence to control and coerce their victims.

In domestic violence households gifted animals are abused 94% of the time
In domestic violence households gifted animals are abused 94% of the time. Image: MikeB

This research is another added piece of information which confirms sadly what we already know and understand: the link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Companion animals are ideally placed for the perpetrators of domestic violence to psychologically attack their victims. They are innocent and vulnerable and emotionally connected to the victims of domestic violence.

The research was carried out by Dogs Trust and Cats Protection (believed). It also found that 97% of people working in the domestic abuse sector said that companion animals were often used as a way to control victims of domestic violence.

The researchers also concluded that in households where there is domestic violence (domestic abuse) 88% of the time animals were also abused by the perpetrator. And in more than 10% of these homes, animals were killed by perpetrators to emotionally harm their victims and to punish and frighten them. I suspect that these pet killings are often unreported and undealt with by the police because of further coercion.

The information is published ahead of a campaign to tackle domestic violence called 16 Days of Action against Domestic Violence. It started on November 25. It is therefore still running at the time of this post.

Freedom Project Manager at Dogs Trust, Amy Hyde, said that their organisation has heard of the perpetrators of domestic abuse not allowing victims to walk their dogs alone. They stop them from accessing veterinary care for the dogs or being able to spend money on dog food. These are not direct acts violence against the animals concerned but another way of using pets to control and coerce their victims who are dog lovers. If you love a dog and have a strong bond with a dog, the nasty people who perpetrate domestic violence user that information to their advantage. Cats are also involved of course.

It's a shocking indictment of the dysfunctionality of humankind in some settings and in some places by some people.

The study

The research study is titled Animal Abuse As a Strategy of Coercive Control. It was conducted by Dr. Mary Wakeham a former PhD Student at the University of Bristol. I could not find the study online. Perhaps it is yet to be published. It concerned a national survey of 107 respondents who were all victim-survivors of domestic abuse in the UK. They all lived with companion animals. In-depth interviews were conducted with 24 of them together with 10 professionals. Animal abuse occurred in 94 of the 107 i.e. 88% of the households. All 24 interviewed participants talked about how the perpetrator abused their companion animal.

The Dogs Trust website say that in 13 of the 107 homes the animals were killed. This is 12% of the cases.

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