Animal abuse and violence against women and children

This is Azure, a beautiful young dog who was stabbed repeatedly with a sword by the boyfriend of her owner, a woman who was also being abused.

Azure’s full story is here.  She’s been twice saved, and is now up for adoption.

Some of the language in the story is problematic (as is so often true in reportage on relationship violence: battering is not ‘a domestic dispute,’ for example), but it does remind readers of the common link between animal abuse and domestic violence.

If you know of a woman who is being battered, her animals (and children, if she has any) are also at extreme risk.

If you know of an animal that is being abused, there might also be other kinds of violence in the home.

Personally, my experience has been that whatever someone is willing to do to an animal, they are willing to do to a child or a woman (who they generally view the same way: as an object they own and over which they deserve total control).

Many women will not leave their abusive home because they know their batterer will kill any animal they leave behind.

They know this because it’s true (and sometimes, the animals are killed as a threat to keep the woman from leaving).

On the whole, women’s shelters won’t take animals, for legal and insurance reasons. Some places are trying to address this by partnering with area animal shelters so that a woman escaping violence can bring her family pets with her: the animal shelter will house or find foster care for the animal(s) for the duration of the time she’s in the women’s shelter, and return the animal to her when she settles in the new area. Here is an example, from the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society’s program SPAN (Safety Plan for Animals).

Mostly, this kind of program is funded by private donations.

Shelters could use your support to make this possible.

If your local women’s shelter and/or animal shelter are not offering a program like this, maybe you can help get one started.

Here’s a collection of links to further reading if you’d like to learn more.

Some of these articles include reportage of extreme cruelty, but it’s important to understand these connections.

Understanding The Link® Between Animal Abuse and Family Violence

The Animal Abuse-Human Violence Link


The Link Between Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

First Strike: The Connection Between Animal Cruelty and Human Violence

The link between animal abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse

Cruelty Connections

The Connection Between Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty

Pets as Pawns in Domestic Violence


Hopefully needless to say, it’s not always domestic violence that creates dangerous situations for animals and people. Children who torture and abuse animals are in need of psychiatric intervention: there could be any number of things going on, none of which are minor, and allowing animals to be abused because it’s a child that’s doing it is unacceptable. Abuse of animals by both children and adults has also been linked to serial killing and other forms of sociopathy. Relationship violence is probably the most common risky situation, but any time an animal is being abused or something violent is happening around animals, there should be major warning flags for both the animals and the people involved.


6 responses to “Animal abuse and violence against women and children

  1. Thank you for this information. I am hoping to start a temporary foster program for domestic abuse victims in Philadelphia. Your links are tremendously helpful.

  2. I’m so glad, and best of luck with the foster program! I’d love to hear how it goes.

  3. Pingback: Animal abuse laws begin to catch on - « Gilgablog

  4. UPDATE:

    As far as I know, the SPAN Program mentioned in this post is no longer functioning, for lack of funding support.

  5. Pingback: Human shelter taking animals, as they all should | Gilgablog

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