AN UNDENIABLE LINK: Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence
Protecting victims of domestic violence will help protect animals too. Experts agree that statistics about abuse, while disturbing, probably downplay the true magnitude of domestic violence. To fight the silence that hides domestic violence, the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) helped establish the National Domestic Violence Hotline and exponentially increased the reporting of domestic violence. On February 12, 2013 the Senate passed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. Without better laws, domestic abusers—who have up to an 80% rate of recidivism - will almost certainly repeat their crimes.
An Undeniable Link
-Animal abuse is often the first visible sign a family is in trouble.
-Many victims entering shelters report that their abuser has hurt, killed, or threatened family animals. About a third report their children have harmed animals.
-Victims often admit an animal is being abused before they admit their own suffering.
-Animal cruelty investigations frequently unravel chronic domestic abuse.
How the Law Can Help
Legal remedies include improving the ability of domestic violence shelters to coordinate the protection of animals. Laws that put custody of companion animals directly into legal “protection orders” allow judges to help human and animal victims. Establishing ownership of animals can be difficult and often requires legal assistance. Many communities have services that provide free legal advice in this area.