Victims / survivors
We know how important an animal can be in our lives, as family members and cherished companions.
Perpetrators of family violence may threaten to harm, injure or even kill a companion animal. This may cause family members to delay leaving an unsafe relationship and they may not be able to source a safe place for their pets.
Animals may also become involved in situations of elder abuse and with people living with disability.
Animals may be a significant source of joy as well as security for a child or young person. An animal may be an important emotional attachment and friend.
Children may witness their pet being harmed, used as a manipulation tool by an abuser, or become separated from their pet when leaving the home.
Research has also found a link between children who engage in animal cruelty and violent offending in adulthood.
Companion animals are present in 70% of domestic and family violence cases within Australia .
Animal abuse can be an indicator of human violence. Pet abuse in the home is linked with higher quantity of domestic violence incidents and more severe abusive tactics.
Why it is so hard for humans to see animals as victims of domestic violence?
The Power and Control wheel outlines some of the actions that perpetrators of violence may use to intentionally control or intimidate family members involving companion animals.
This has been modified from the Duluth Model which was developed in Minnesota, USA, to make the pattern, intent and impact of domestic violence visible.
Companion animals may be a significant source of support for family members who may choose to stay in an abusive relationship, as women's refuges or other accommodation choices may not have facilities to house their pets.
Animal Justice Party calls for family violence law reform to help victims and their pets (Victoria).
Family and domestic violence support services
RSPCA domestic violence support for pets:
A number of state and territory RSPCA's offer safe beds for pets facing domestic violence situations:
South Australia RSPCA
WA RSPCA - Pets in Crisis Program
Safe Pets Safe Families (SA)
Lucy’s Project is a volunteer organisation, based in Lismore New South Wales Australia, with chapters in most states of Australia.
Daisy is an app that connects women around Australia to services including specialist family and domestic violence services, legal, housing, finance and children’s services.
Download Daisy for Android devices
Download Daisy for iOS devices
Family and domestic violence support by State
Sunny is 1800RESPECT’s app for women with disability who have experienced violence and abuse.
Sunny can be downloaded via the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android devices.