Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

Escrito por HSUS.

Domestic abuse and animal abuse are often intertwined.

An abundance of research shows the close link between violent behavior toward animals and violent behavior toward people.

The studies on this page focus on the extraordinary prevalence of animal cruelty in homes afflicted by domestic violence.

They reveal the insidious and calculated motives for harming or killing another person’s beloved pet, and the heartrending repercussions for the abused partners, their pets and their children.


  • Up to 75 percent of domestic violence victims report that their partners threatened or killed family pets. [1],[2],[3],[4]

  • In Wisconsin, 68 percent of battered women with pets reported that their animals had also been abused. Of these incidents, 75 percent occurred in the presence of children. [5]

  • Women seeking safety at domestic violence shelters are nearly 11 times more likely to report that their partner has hurt or killed pets than women who have not experienced domestic violence. [6]


A batterer may threaten a pet in order to compel a partner to commit a crime.
  • Between 18 percent and 48 percent of battered women delay leaving abusive situations out of fear for the safety of their animals. [7]

  • In a study of battered women in several northeastern states,

    • 48 percent of respondents reported that animal abuse had occurred "often" during the past 12 months.
    • 30 percent reported the abuse occurred "almost always."
    • 51 percent reported that animal abuse incidents coincided with violent outbursts against human family members. [8]

  • A 1997 survey of domestic violence situations found:

    • 85 percent of the 50 largest shelters for battered women in the United States said clients discussed incidence of pet abuse in the family.
    • Overall, 71 percent of women and 63 percent of children entering the shelters reported that animals had been the target of violence. [9]

  • A "gold standard" study conducted between 1994 and 2000 found that pet abuse is one of four risk factors for intimate partner violence. [10]

  • Pet abuse is listed as a form of intimidation in the "power and control wheel," a landmark chart developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, the first multi-disciplinary program designed to address the issue of domestic violence. [11]

  • Threats of harm to family pets may be used to coerce women who are battered into committing illegal acts at the behest of the batterer. [12]

  • A survey of 1,283 female pet owners found that domestic batterers who abuse pets use more forms of violence and demonstrate greater use of controlling behaviors over human victims than batterers who do not abuse their pets. [13]

  • A Texas study found that batterers who harm animals are more dangerous and more violent than batterers who do not abuse animals. [14]

  • Thirty-two percent of battered women report their children had hurt or killed animals. [15]

  • Children exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to be cruel to animals than children living in nonviolent households. [16]


1. Ascione, F. R. (1998). Battered women's reports of their partners and their children's cruelty to animals. Journal of Emotional Abuse 1, 119-133

2. Faver, C. A., & Strand, E. B. (2003). To leave or to stay? Battered women's concern for vulnerable pets. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18, 1367-1377

3. Flynn, C. P.  (2000a). Woman's best friend: Pet abuse and the role of companion animals in the lives of battered women. Violence against Women, 6, 162-177

4. Loring, M. T., & Bolden-Hines, T. A. (2004). Pet abuse by batterers as a means of coercing battered women into committing illegal behavior. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 4, 27-37.

5. Quinlisk, A. (1999). Animal abuse and family violence. In F. R. Ascione & P. Arkow (Eds.), Child abuse, domestic violence, and animal abuse: Linking the circles of compassion for prevention and intervention (pp. 168-175). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.

6. Ascione, F.R. (2007). Emerging research on animal abuse as a risk factor for intimate partner violence. In K. Kendall-Tackett & S. Giacomoni (Eds.), Intimate partner violence (pp. 3-1 to 3-17). Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute.

7. Ascione, F.R., Weber, C.V. Thompson, T.M., Heath, J., Maruyama, M., & Hayashi, K (2007). Battered pets and domestic violence: Animal abuse reported by women experiencing intimate violence and by non-abused women. Violence Against Women, 13: 354-373.

8. Carlisle-Frank, P. & Flanagan, T. (2004). Selective battering of the family pet. Anthrozoös, 17, 26-42.

9. Ascione, F. R., Weber, C. V., & Wood, D. S. (1997). The abuse of animals and domestic violence: A national survey of shelters for women who are battered. Society and Animals, 5(3), 205-218.

10. Walton, Moss, B.J., Manganello, J., Frye, V., & Campbell, J.C. (2005). Risk factors for intimate partner violence and associated injury among urban women. Journal of Community Health, 30 (5), 377-389.

11. Melanie F. Shepard and Ellen L. Pence. Coordinating Community Responses to Domestic Violence: Lessons from Duluth and Beyond, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1999; p. 275.

12. Loring, M.T. and Beaudoin, P. (2000). Battered Women as Coerced Victim-Perpetrators. Journal of Emotional Abuse. 2 (1). 3-14.

13. Simmons & Lehmann, 2007, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22(9), 1211-1222.

14. 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.

15. Ascione, F. R. (1998). Battered women's reports of their partners' and their children's cruelty to animals. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 1, 119-133).

16. Currie, C. L. (2006). Animal cruelty by children exposed to domestic violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 30(4), 425-435.)

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