Apr 112011
 

This blog’s authors stand upon the premise that a direct link has been established between animal abuse and domestic violence. It has been established through credible research.

We also stand upon the premise that aiding animals in domestic violence situations is important, and it is an activity that needs more attention as a community service activity. More families are likely to seek safety if they know that their pets will be safe too.

We recognize that some women jeopardize themselves by remaining in dangerous situations when they cannot find safety for their animals. We also recognize that some women will prolong their own exposure to violence, and also prolong their children’s exposure to violence, for a lot of reasons. One of these reasons, sometimes, is worry about the welfare of their animals.

Although we recognize this circumstance, and although we see it as a reason to promote more awareness for the care of pets in domestic violence situations, we do not advocate that anyone put the welfare of humans at risk FOR ANY REASON. Even for the welfare of the pets.

Any child in danger must be brought to safety IMMEDIATELY. If your child is in danger, or any child that you know is in danger, PLEASE take proper action to secure the child’s safety, even if there are animals at risk who cannot be rescued immediately.

It is an adult’s choice about his/her own safety, however, we do not recommend that you risk your own safety for the safety of a pet. When it comes to a child, however, THE CHILD’S WELFARE MUST COME FIRST.

Recently, I was asked to aid in an effort to find homes for two dogs who were being displaced because of domestic violence. I had little information about the situation. All I knew was that a woman and her 9 year old daughter were leaving their home where there was an abusive man, and they were asking for assistance in finding homes for their dogs. They were afraid that the dogs would be abused by the man in their absence. Statistics about abusers also abusing pets suggest that their worry was legitimate.

I did not know if the woman was waiting to secure herself and her daughter until the pets were safe. My queries to the person who asked for my help suggested that she and the daughter were being aided by a community service organization in their area.  I have to accept that this is true, because even if it is not, there is little that I can do. I was only asked to help the animals who were beloved by this family.

My posting about the situation on Facebook prompted some comments about the welfare of the woman and child. By seeking help for the animals, was I condoning the possibility that this woman was waiting to secure herself and her child until the animals were safe?

That certainly was not my intent. I simply was putting forward the request for help for the animals. I was not asked to help the family in any other capacity. My hope is that the woman was responsible in finding safety for herself and the child regardless of the pets’ situation.

Domestic violence is a very insidious issue. As a counselor for 19 years, I faced many situations where I knew people were making unwise choices in regards to violence in their homes, but there was little I could do to intervene unless there was immediate danger. We simply cannot fix other people’s lives for them. We can only offer them opportunities to get out of bad situations, educate them about those opportunities, and offer support.

That is why this blog and the entire Okey’s Promise initiative promotes awareness about the connections between animal abuse and domestic violence and child abuse. By being more aware of the connections, we are more able to recognize the dangers to both humans and animals, and we are more able to develop services that can help both out of bad situations.

Because everyone deserves safety and peace of mind. And communities that care about animals are communities that care about people.

BZTAT

 

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  6 Responses to “Helping humans and animals in domestic violence situations.”

  1. Bz – I am also familiar with this situation. As you know, you cannot force someone to leave until they’re ready, and this woman is not willing to leave until she has found a safe place for her dogs. Although it may not be in her best interest, it’s still her choice.

    I think the best thing we can do is to help find a foster home ASAP. I know many people are working toward that end. I hope and pray that it happens quickly so the woman and her daughter can get out of this horrible situation.

  2. The woman, by NOT leaving and keeping the child in an unsafe home risks losing her child. I hope for all involved she removes her child from an unsafe environment. I believe by posting (in the original note) the city of this home, the dogs names, photos and the child’s age and sex you are putting this woman at even more risk of harm because that is enough information to identify her to some people. I am sure you all know the act of leaving is often the most dangerous. I am all for helping people and animals but that child MUST be removed from an abusive home. I would also be very careful what information I spread over social media for fear of endangering a woman who is not thinking clearly at all.

  3. Furthermore, it may be her ‘choice’ to stay but endangering her child is a crime. Again, by posting identifying information all over social media you are doing this woman NO favor. If you know her and truly care get off the computer and get her and her child out of that house!

  4. Obviously, this is a very emotional issue. Indeed, the safety of the child in this specific circumstance is paramount, as it is in any circumstance.

    We do not know the details of this situation. We do not know the extent of violence or how volatile the situation is. We also do not know the basis of this woman’s choices. My sources do tell me that she has appropriately accessed community services. The child’s welfare is being addressed appropriately according to my information.
    In respect to the concern about identifying information, I have deleted all my postings about the matter, however, my understanding is that all information that has been posted has been approved by the family.

    I believe that the discussion has inadvertently revolved around the details of a specific incidence, rather than the overall issue addressed in this post. For that reason, I will not approve further comments that address the specific situation.

    Thank you for your comments.

  5. I think this really calls to light the fact that animal shelters and domestic violence shelters must work together to help ensure that both pets and family members are removed from dangerous situations. Here are two links of shelters working together – one is safe havens for pets http://www.ahimsahouse.org/safe-havens-directory, the other is domestic violence shelters that provide on-site accommodations for pets http://alliephillips.com/?page_id=516.

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