Domestic violence is not a private affair. Some one is being hurt and needs help. Abuse and violence affect us all in many ways, even if we have never been a victim ourselves.
If you have placed a purple light on your porch this October, thank you for remembering, supporting and offering hope to the victims of domestic abuse.
Violent crimes co-exist.
There is a significant correlation between animal cruelty and crimes of domestic violence, the physical and sexual abuse of children, sexual assault and other violent crimes.
Animal welfare, law enforcement, domestic violence and child welfare agencies are working together in recognition of what has become known as “The Link,” the tie between animal abuse and violence towards people, particularly within the family.
We know that violence towards animals can be both a part of and a sign of child, spousal, sibling and elder abuse.
In nearly all families where there is physical abuse of the children, there is animal abuse.
Almost two-thirds of pet-owning women seeking refuge in women’s shelters report that their abuser had threatened or had harmed their pet.
Of those women with children and pets, most believe the children were aware of the abuse, and have been impacted by it.
Children may act out or abuse their pets because this is what they have seen and may believe as normal behaviour.
Women and other abused people often delay leaving abusive situations because they are afraid of what will happen to the pet.
Animal cruelty is one of the earliest indicators that an individual is developing a pattern of seeking power and control through abuse of others.
When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it is a warning sign that others in the household may be in danger.
Everyone in the community should be aware of The Link, as well as the other warning signs of abuse.
If you suspect someone you know may be a victim, there are some things you can do to help.
You can talk to the victim about what you see, let them know that you care, but be aware that they may have difficulty getting help.
Share the number to VictimLink (1-800-563-0808) and keep it handy. If there is immediate danger, call 911.
If you are a victim feeling trapped in a situation because you fear for your pet, know that most women’s shelters and safe houses will help you find safe accommodation for your pet.
Although there are no transition homes in Agassiz and Harrison, there are several in Chilliwack and Hope.
For more information, visit bchousing.org/housing-assistance/women-fleeing-violence.
-Nicolette Joosting is a Harrison Hot Springs resident and veterinarian who has recently retired from her Vancouver Feline practice. She keeps herself busy through the Harrison Veterinary Service, her blog and by volunteering in the community.