Pets and domestic violence

The human-animal bond provides us with many benefits to the family in terms of health and child development. Unfortunately, the strength of this bond can be used to manipulate vulnerable people.

There is increasing research and clinical evidence which suggests that there are sometimes inter-relationships, commonly referred to as ‘links’, between the abuse of children, vulnerable adults and animals. A better understanding of these links can help to protect victims, both human and animal, and promote their welfare.

These relationships are complex, and it does not imply that children who are cruel to animals necessarily go on to be violent adults and adults who harm animals are not necessarily also violent to their partners and/or children.

However, in homes where domestic violence occurs, the perpetrator (usually though not always the man) may use violence to the family pet (or even just the threat of it) as a means of imposing control. The welfare of a pet may be a factor in an abused woman not seeking help in a refuge.

"Animals and children have one thing in common - they're both easy to hurt. Maltreatment of animals in a family can sound a warning bell that children are also at risk.
We need to recognise the links".

Policy and practice based on knowledge of the links may enable professionals to intervene earlier in order to detect or prevent abuse to children, vulnerable adults and/or animals. In order to achieve this it is essential that arrangements for co-operation and communication between the relevant statutory and voluntary organisations are developed or enhanced.

Find out more about understanding the link on:

Alternatively check ot the Scottish Society for the Protection of Animals (SSPA) website and follow links for their Animal Cruelty: Family Violence campaign.




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