In 2017, the Department of Justice defined domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship in a domestic setting that is used to gain or maintain power and control.” Such forms of abuse can take in both heterosexual and same-sex families and can even include violence against children. It is also important to note that this type of abuse can take a number of forms, including physical, sexual, verbal, economic, psychological, religious and emotional abuse.
Domestic violence is one of the saddest outcomes of any relationship and this dysfunction is said to be on the rise because most of the abusers believe that abuse is acceptable, justified and unlikely to be reported. As a result, this may produce inter-generational cycles of abuse in children and other family members who may feel that such form of abuse is acceptable or condoned.
When domestic violence takes place in a household, children are often believed to be the most affected victims. However, did you know that your pets could also be affected?
Can Domestic Violence Really Affect Pets?
For a long time, scientists claimed that animals could not feel any emotion; they believed in their theory because they had no way to test it. However, lately this has been changing and there are several examples of animals exhibiting emotional behavior. For instance, whenever they’d hear a sudden loud noise, cats would puff up and run away, thus depicting fear. Dogs, for example, would grieve when their owner dies, thus showing grief and sadness. Any domesticated companion that has been staying away from his owner would show great excitement and happiness upon seeing his human companion again. And, when being attacked, any animal would react with violent aggression.
You see, all these behaviors clearly illustrate the fact that animals do have emotions. The only reason why many have ever doubted that animals feel emotion is that animals do not express their emotions the same way we do.
Now, if they can feel emotions, what do you think they would feel if they were exposed to domestic violence? How would a cat, a dog or a rabbit react when its owner is either a victim or the perpetrator of domestic violence?
Read the stories below to learn more about how domestic violence affects pets.
Tbone, a Victim of Domestic Violence
Tbone is a dog who has been through a lot. Instead of feeding and taking care of him, his very first companion, who was an aggressor, tortured him physically. Tbone wasn’t raised in a comfortable environment and didn’t have a caring owner, which is the reason why he ended up with several traumas. Even when he moved into another house, he could not a normal life like any other dog. As soon as his new owner approached him, he would get very scared. It was even impossible for his companion to play with him as the latter would get very stressed. In the end, the owner surrendered and Tbone lost his only home.
Hazel and Tania
Tania is Hazel’s owner and has been living with an abusive partner for over two years. Because of her financial crisis, Tania couldn’t leave the house of her violent partner and was thus being physically and verbally abused every day. However, one day, Tania decided to stand up and end the violence and the reason behind her courageous act was Hazel.
According to Tania, “He would hold Hazel too tight around the nose and wouldn’t let her go when I asked him to. Once, he even tried to throw her through an open door but she hit the glass. All that stuff has just stuck with me –I’d be screaming on the inside.”