It is a known fact that a batterer will always choose a target weaker than them for their first attack. Very often, this is an animal within the home. After this, they often turn to their spouses or their children. The issue for a domestic abuse perpetrator is control, which they achieve through threats, torture and sometimes killing. Often, this is done by killing the animals of the victim.
Cruelty to Animals and Cruelty to Children
Domestic abuse is always directed towards those who have no power. This is why animal abuse is so often seen together with abuse against children. If a parent neglects the proper care that an animal needs, it is very likely they also neglect their children.
Of course, it is important to recognize that the parent is not always the one who abuses the animal. Indeed, it has been known for children to do the same. More often than not, however, this is behavior that they copy from their parents, who have demonstrated that anger and violence are acceptable reactions to frustration. As such, for a child, the animal often becomes the only possible target, as they are the only ones hierarchically below them. Within abusive homes, establishing a pecking order is something that is very important, which is why it is common to see a child kill or maim their pets. From historic and current cases, we know that almost all children who abuse animals live in a home with domestic violence.
The Importance of Animal Abuse for Service Providers
Animal cruelty is often done in plain sight, which is why it is so important for service providers to be aware of this. Human victims are able to hide their marks, but they often feel open about discussing animal abuse within their homes. This is very important for animal abuse bodies to be aware of, because they are often more able to gain access to a home than what a social services worker is. This is why it is so important for the different agencies to work together properly.
Indeed, in more and more cases, it is a requirement for a service delivery officer to report in what condition any animals in the households are. This is something that various charities for abused women have successfully campaigned towards. Since this became law in Ontario, Canada, for instance, around 25% of domestic abuse cases also saw animal abuse in the home.
Additionally, we know that some 40% of women do not seek refuge from their abusive partners because they worry about the welfare of their animals. This is why many women’s refuges are now offering assistance for pets as well. In the U.S., for instance, there are now over 100 programs that deliver pet fostering services.
The Early Start of Violence
Very often, children are told that violence to animals is nothing more than a prank. This is particularly true when boys do it, and they are told that “boys will be boys”. However, it has been demonstrated again and again that those who commit violence against animals often become worse abusers as time goes on. Indeed, the most dangerous of criminals are often those who have abused animals as children.