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Unbreakable bond between battered women and non-human animal companions

It is not a secret that non-human animal abuse co-occur in households with domestic violence. Women have a lack of confidence in social workers to guarantee a safe haven for their beloved pets and refuse to separate from them (Strand and Faver, 2005). In fact, women will not leave an abusive situation out of fear the abuser may harm or kill their non-human animal companion(s) (Strand and Faver, 2005; Simmons and Lehmann,2007; Robbins, 2006, Flynn,2000; Ascione, Thompson and Black, 1997). Abusers, acting as emotional blackmailers, " target the animal because of the bond between woman and animal" (Flynn, 2000). The bond between the victim and non-human animal companion consequents in the abuser becoming jealous with increased feelings of resentment towards the non-human companion.

The woman holds on to the one part of her life that brings her joy which is at risk of being killed by her abuser.

Clifton Flynn gave a survey in a South Carolina battered women's shelter to 107 victims (Flynn, 2000). Results of Flynn's study found that 75% of women who had pets, felt a strong emotional bond with their non-human animal companions (Flynn, 2000). Due to the grave impact non-human animal companions have on the decision-making process of battered women, government officials are starting to acknowledge animal welfare when accessing adult protective service procedures (Peak, Ascione and Doney, 2012).

The Urban Resource Institute People and Animals Living Safely (URIPALS) is a huge progression in the safety of entire families that suffer from domestic violence. URIPALS offer programs and shelter to both human and non-human victims of domestic abuse ( Unfortunately, facilities of this program have a restriction on the type of non-human animals that are allowed to enter. There is a lot of work to be done, but strides are being made.


Ascione, F. R., Thompson, T. M., & Black, T. (1997). Childhood cruelty to animals: Assessing
cruelty dimensions and motivations. Anthrozoos, 10(4), 170-197. Urban resource institute.(2013). Retrieved Jan 28, 2013 from

Flynn, C. P. (2000). Battered women and their animal companions: symbolic interaction between human and nonhuman animals. Society & Animals, 8(2), 99-127.
Peak, T., Ascione, F., & Doney, J. (2012). Adult protective services and animal welfare: should animal abuse and neglect be assessed during adult protective services screening?. Journal Of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 24(1), 37-49

Robbins, J. (2006). Recognizing the relationship between domestic violence and animal abuse: recommendations for change to the texas legislature. Texas Journal Of Women & The Law, 16(1), 129-147.

Simmons, C. A., & Lehmann, P. (2007). Exploring the link between pet abuse and controlling behaviors in violent relationships. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 22(9), 1211-1222.

Strand, E. B., & Faver, C. A. (2005). Battered women's concern for their pets: a closer look. Journal Of Family Social Work, 9(4), 39-58

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