Sanctuary for the Abused

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What About My Pets?

Another Reason Women Don't Leave

I recently received an email from someone who reminded me of another reason why women don't leave abusive situations. They are afraid for the lives of their pets. According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a 1997 study of the largest battered women's shelters in 48 states revealed that workers at 85 percent of those shelters had heard reports from women about incidents of animal abuse. And abusers often torture the human members of the family by hurting or killing pets, right in front of the other members of the family.

In fact, some abusers use animals to 'practice' hurting humans. In these situations the pet often becomes a sort of hostage - it is safe as long as the woman stays and obeys.

In an ideal world, there would be shelters that include pets, or safe places to place pets when anyone flees an abusive situation. Advocates are working with animals shelters and veterinarians to find a solution to this problem.

The priorities in our society make things even worse. There are not enough shelters for battered women in this country, and the prospect for improvement in the immediate future is dim. So the shelters are full, and animals are usually not permitted.

In the last ten years, more attention has been paid to the fact that violent people often manifest themselves first in violence against animals. Many states have passed laws that make cruelty to animals a felony offense. Women's rights advocates will relate, with bitter irony, that being cruel to an animal is a felony, while being cruel to a woman is only a misdemeneanor. But if you can get past that irony, the animal protection laws can be used to a woman's advantage.

The main problem with domestic violence laws is that a batterer can beat up his wife or girlfriend several times before the law gets annoyed. But if the batterer harms the family pet, the batterer can be arrested on a felony charge.

In many ways, our society at the present time values animals more than it values women and children. Humane Societies may be more prevalent in a state than women's shelters, often with more reliable funding. Please understand that I am not denigrating Humane Societies; that's where I get my cats. I am suggesting that the Humane Society can be a valuable ally that can partner with women's shelters.

If you are in a violent situation where your pet is being used as a hostage, the first step is still the same: call a hotline to get help. The advocates you reach will know the laws in your state and can help to find shelter for your pets too.

The Humane Society of the United States has a program called First Strike. There is information at their website for setting up an organization in your community. The woman who reminded me of this problem runs a website called Friends of Pets. And at, there are thousands of websites listed that can help.

Ask when you call a shelter if they allow pets, or know a program in your area that will take care of your pet until your situation stabilizes. Family members and friends can be a good resource too. There may be county workers that investigate reports of animal cruelty who has ideas about sheltering your pets. I once worked with a women who has dozens of animals, including chickens and a horse. We found another women who had survived battering, had remarried and lived on a hobby farm. This survivor was happy to shelter all the women's animals while the first woman recovered.

Be sure to talk to your advocate about an Order for Protection, which can protect your animals as well as you. And as always, your best source for ideas, support, resources, and brainstorming if your local women's crisis center. The more we publicize issues like this one, the more attention it will receive. And perhaps we'll change the world.

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shared by Barbara at 12:09 AM



I don't understand this rational to stay in an abusive relationship to protect your pet or children for that matter. Leave the relationship and take the pet and children with you. Then nobody will be harmed by the abuser. I have a pet and I continually monitor how he is treated in my absense. Frankly if I couldn't take care of him or he was subjected to an abusive situation , I would give him to the animal shelter. The safety of children are far more difficult, because foster care may be just as bad or worse and since you are a victim of an abuser and the abuser is typically from an abusive family, I personally would not leave him/her with any family member unless they saw what was happening and validated you and encouraged you to leave the relationship. That would be the only family member I would trust with my animal or child.

Moreover, I am beginning to believe that some people who are being phyically abused regularly and keep their children with them or an animal who is a potential target of physical abuse has a sadistic/masochositic persnonality disorder. To stay after one hit is out of shock. To stay after two hits is awakening and coming out of shock and after the third hit depending on the level of brutality is wake up time and time to get out. That is a normal response give or take depending on the level of deception and economic security and attractiveness of the person, etc.

I would like to say is this.
I am not saying this website is of this nature, but some domestic violence organizations discourage self defense. Thus this last comment applies to them.
I feel it is even more sadistic when an authority (in the helpful profession) does not encourage or advocate self defense in any woman/man or child that has been the victim of physical violence. You don't have to strike back to know self defense. It is the knowledge and discipline in the course itself that will prevent violence against innocent victims especially children and animals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One last statement while I have a chance to express myself. On another site, that have a list of red flags to identify abusers. It is dangerous to have gross generalizations about people, such as, if they are living with their parents and unemployed that they are abusers. This is the opportunity for antagonists who are abusers to use this information to slander or discredit and individual. That is what antogonists do, take gross generalizations and apply them to the masses. Please monitor these websites and put a stop to this. They are not helpful and have a covert method of implicating people in general and causing paranoia and fear based on such gross generalizations. This is abuse in andofitself. Comments were turned off at this website.

6:43 PM  

I am reading Dr. George Simon PhD and he states that women stay in physically violent relationships becuase they feel that is the only way to prevent them from killing them, apparantly not abusing them.

If indeed this is their state of mind, why is that they do not report this to the police, legal aid and why does the police force not lock them up permanently?

If you are well aware of the inevitable, then why is the victim and the authorities not preventing the violence from occurring by keeping him/her locked up. I have seen on 20/20 that an innocent person gets put in prison for 20 years and a perpretrator gets away with murder several times over. There is not a problem in the justice system. Big problem to fix and you probably can't by yourself. But in order to stop a problem you must fight for your dignity and self respect and justice, without committing the act of violence that is being inflicted upon you. You do not have to defend yourself against violence with violence. You can physically block violence. You can walk away from violence. You can verbally stop violence. It can be done! You must stand up for yourself and be prepared to block a blow without engaging in violence. This can be done! The same goes for verbal abuse. The stradegies are the same. On a nonviolent platform it is the same as boycotting a product or a company and you don't give in ever!!!!!!! until the resolution is in stone. If you are betrayed don't go back ever!!!!!!!! No human does anything unless they think they can get away with it. That is the nature of man!!!!!!!

8:37 PM  

in response to the last reply....the reason we dont call legal authorities....we are scared for the aftermath of speaking up...i fear for the backstabbing...i fear for the deterioration for more threats....i fear for two child and me...that is why staying silent seems a short term 'fix'....yes it is incredibly difficult to leave ...i never understood the happened (is happening this VERY instance) to me....
my situation is verbal and highly emotional...and enthusiastic bubbly optmistic self from 4years ago....has been raped....robbed...stolen...stomped upon...
and i want the world to see this did/does happen ....and i have documentation....and yet still it is frightening to know that the Unites States court system doesnt regard it as physical the is...

12:45 PM  

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