Domestic violence and animal abuse

There is an undeniable link between the perpetrators of domestic violence and animal abuse. A new study is currently under way to assess this link in Australia.


PUBLISHED ON: 18 January 2009

Domestic violence is on the increase in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 1 in 3 women in this country have experienced violence from a man since the age of 15. Domestic violence can be a problem for all couples, gay and straight, young and old and it doesn't just hurt people. Sadly, even the family pet can be threatened.

Studies in the U.S. show that nearly three quarters of women entering a domestic violence refuge report their partner had threatened to hurt or actually hurt or killed their companion animals. Not surprisingly, many domestic violence victims are delaying leaving the abusive partner due to fears of what the partner may do to the animal. Research also suggests that children who witness domestic violence are more likely to become abusers of animals.

Little is known about the impact of domestic violence on companion animals in Australia.

To investigate this, a study is being conducted at the University of Queensland's Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics involving people who have experienced domestic violence. The researcher (a female vet) is looking for people to participate in a 10 minute survey over the telephone.

If you have ever been in an intimate partner relationship where you experienced either physical or verbal abuse; you owned a pet at the time of this relationship; are currently free from this relationship and feel safe and are over 18, please consider participating in this study. You will remain anonymous and your responses confidential.

Calls will be taken every evening (except Sundays) from 5-8pm until June 9th 2009 by calling (07) 3346 6274. This study has UQ Human Ethics Committee approval.

[UPDATE 2012: For information on the outcome of this research click here.]

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