Animal abuse is one way batterers keep victims from leaving

Victims of domestic violence often put up with a great deal of abuse for reasons that others may find hard to understand. One of those reasons could be that they fear leaving because they can't flee with their beloved pets and dread the idea of them being subjected to abuse.

Often when domestic violence occurs to a spouse, the children and pets are being abused simultaneously. In fact, numerous research revealed that roughly 50 to 70 percent of abused women had pets that were harmed or killed by their abuser. One survey showed that 85 percent of battered women's shelters had victims stay with them who had a pet abused by their batterer.

If you have a pet and fear for its safety if you leave your abusive situation, your concerns over your pet's welfare can keep you in a dangerous situation, as someone who abuses a pet is likely to escalate their abuse on their human victims as well.

So what can a battered woman do if she fears leaving her pet behind could get it tortured or killed?

One option is to leave the animal at a safe haven designated for pets of domestic violence victims. The downside is that most likely this place will not be the same shelter where the victim and children (if any) are staying.

How can these places be identified? A veterinarian is one source to ask for leads, as are local humane societies that may have a database of volunteers willing to foster the pet until the battered spouse is able to reclaim Fluffy or Fido.

No one — human or animal — should have to put up with cruelty and abuse. If you are ready to break free from your abuser, contacting a family law attorney to get a protective order is a good first step.

Source: Animal Welfare Institute, "Facts and Myths About Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse," accessed Dec. 23, 2015

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