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Animal Cruelty and Human Violence – The Connection

Animal Cruelty and Human Violence – The Connection


In the last few years, more attention has been given to the undeniable relationship between animal abuse and domestic violence.

What’s the Connection Between Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence?

When an animal is being abused, it’s likely domestic violence is also taking place in the home. As a result, animal cruelty is a societal issue everyone, not just animal welfare advocates, need to be concerned about.

According to the American Humane Association and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women, and 75% in the presence of the children, to psychologically control and coerce them.”

And, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), “pet abuse is one of four predictors of domestic partner violence, according to a six-year ‘gold standard’ study conducted in 11 metropolitan cities.”

Also, says the HSUS, studies reveal that between 71% and 83% of women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their partners also abused or killed the family pet. And another study found that in families being investigated for child  abuse, pet abuse was also present in 88% of the cases.

Why Do Abusers Also Hurt Animals?

According to the ASPCA, those who perpetrate domestic violence also abuse pets in the household for the following reasons:

  • To demonstrate power and control over the family
  • To isolate the victim and children
  • To enforce submission
  • To perpetuate an environment of fear
  • To prevent the victim from leaving or coerce her to return
  • To punish for leaving or showing independence

Why Don’t People Being Abused Just Leave The Abuser?

There are a variety of complex reasons why those being abused don’t get out of their situations.  According to the American Humane Association and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, between 25% and 40% of battered women will not leave abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets if they leave.

Many organizations and womens’ shelters now recognize this reluctance and have started to take measures to make arrangements for the pets of victims of domestic violence, either in foster care, in animal shelters or, in some cases, even facilities within the womens’ shelters themselves.

What About Children Who Hurt Animals?

Kids who abuse pets should not be taken lightly and need psychological intervention.  According to the HSUS, “Children who abuse animals are sending out clear warning signs that they pose a risk to themselves as well as to others.”

In addition, says the HSUS, “A child who abuses animals may also be acting out against violence in his own home. Professional intervention can remove a child from a potentially abusive situation and divert him or her from future abusive behavior.”

What Can I Do To Help?

“You can help stop the cycle of violence by recognizing that animal abuse is an indicator of serious problems,” says the HSUS. Reporting animal abuse is an important part of stopping perpetrators who may have – or will – escalate to violence against humans as well.

The ASPCA offers tips on how to report animal abuse. Your stepping forward may just save a pet’s – and a human’s – life.

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