Animal Abuse

Domestic Animal Abuse – harm to family pets


Many women and children are forced to stay with violent partners because they feel they can’t leave their pets behind due to animal abuse. In some instances violent partners are also violent towards the family pets. Research shows that there is a link between animal abuse and domestic abuse where violent perpetrators could threaten to harm or actually kill a beloved pet in order to intimidate their partner, therefore maintaining their power and control.


What do Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse Accomplish by Harming Animals?

A violent perpetrator will use whatever there is in the home to maintain power and control over their partner and children. It stands to reason if there are pet animals, they will use them in the same way. For example, by harming a pet, a violent perpetrator can re-enforce a sense of terror in their partner and children, they may not need to do anything else to demonstrate their power. By hurting a pet they are demonstrating what they are capable of. If the perpetrator kills the pet they are destroying a source of comfort and support for the family by cutting them off from the unconditional love of a pet which can add to their feelings of isolation and despair. If a pet is left in the home when a family goes into a refuge, the perpetrator may choose to harm the pet to re-enforce the fear that if they are not in the home then their pets are not safe. We must never forget that by threatening to harm a much loved pet, a child’s silence can be bought by an abuser, e.g. ‘If you tell anyone, I’ll kill your kitten.’ For many women who need to leave violent relationships, the options are open to them regarding the care of their pets is very limited. Salford Women’s Aid  will support any women who are coming into our refuge to find alternative care for their pet through referrals to pet fostering services.


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Contact Salford Women's Aid. 0161 793 3232. Monday to Friday 1pm – 4pm.