Sunday, March 14th, 2010 | Author: mjward

Many consider pets to be family members. Often people find comfort in them when something goes wrong in their lives. Like other family members, pets are also affected by physical abuse.

The relationship between human and animal abuse in families is complex. First, pets can be injured as part of the abuse of children and partners. For example, a husband can harm his wife’s puppy as a way of terrorizing her. Second, researchers have found that pets and children are both attacked in abusive families. Third, abusers may coerce children to take part in sexual abuse and to keep quiet about it by threatening to hurt their pets. Fourth, children may take out their anger and frustration about their own abuse on their pets. They learn to use violence by seeing it. Fifth, children may believe they are expendable if their pets are. In fact, when a pet is injured, it is important to look into the possibility physical or emotional abuse involving human family members.

Often women who are victims of assault are caught between the need to go to a shelter for their own safety and the fear that leaving their pets behind can mean the animals’ injury or death. Some women stay in abusive homes to protect their pets, leaving themselves and their children at risk of further abuse. The American Humane Association is advocating the PAWS program–Pets and Women’s Shelters, where abused women can go along with their pets. Organizers believe that, if women know that their pets are safe, they will seek safety for themselves.

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