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Can animal abuse be a type of domestic violence?

Domestic violence can take many forms, and one is the abuse of our four-legged friends. Read on to learn about the correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse.

When there is already domestic violence occurring in a relationship, frequently abuse of children and/or pets occurs at the same time. Over 70 percent of women victimized by domestic violence report threats or harm to their pets by their intimate partners. One survey showed that 85 percent of women seeking shelter from domestic violence related tales of animal abuse to their beloved pets. This is used as another form of control over the woman.

Because they fear for the safety of their furry friends, as many as 48 percent of women battered by their partners delay leaving this dangerous situation. Women fleeing violent partners usually cannot bring their pets into shelters or other types of refuge environments, so they remain and endure further abuse.

Abuse of animals is one of the quartet of significant predictors of violence toward partners, according to one study. Animal abuse often is associated with the severity of psychological and physical violence present in a relationship. While not every man who abuses an animal will go on to batter his spouse or children, it increases the potential for an escalation of violence in a relationship.

Nobody should have to remain in a marriage or relationship where they, their children or pets are abused. If your partner is abusing you, your family law attorney can draft a restraining order that a judge must sign. As it is only a piece of paper, it does not guarantee that violent acts won't occur, but it does mean that there will be greater consequences to the one in violation of the order.

Source: Animal Welfare Institute, "Facts and Myths About Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse," accessed April 22, 2016

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