As a threat assessment and management professional and as a survivor of domestic violence that included animal abuse, I encourage all my colleagues to familiarize themselves with the link between these two issues. Subjects who intentionally abuse animals are highly likely to engage in acts of violence against human beings as well, particularly intimate partners and children. The correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse is staggering, with over 70% of domestic violence victims reporting the assault or killing of a pet in the home. The purpose of this tactic is twofold: it punishes the victim, causing them fear and distress by hurting the animal they love, while simultaneously demonstrating power and control, serving as a warning that tells the victim, “You will be next.”
When escaping domestic violence, many victims stay longer or return to dangerous situations because they fear for the safety of their pet, which frequently cannot accompany them to a shelter or new residence. While some states have laws to help domestic violence victims claim and protect their pets, most do not, leaving animals vulnerable to being used as a tool by abusers. On many threat assessment scales, abuse against animals is an early indicator of a propensity toward other kinds of violence. If you are involved with a case that includes animal abuse, remember to assess the safety of the humans in the home as well. Likewise, if your case involves domestic violence, please evaluate the risk to animals in the environment and contact animal abuse authorities or a veterinarian if you suspect violence.
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