Missy my beautiful girl with my daughter
Safe Pets Safe Families or how I see the name Safe Pets = Safe Families is a registered Charity servicing the Australian community with frontline crisis foster and vet care services, ongoing support and developing intervention programs to stop the cycle of violence. SPSF was started in 2013 by myself Jennifer Howard in South Australia. I experienced domestic violence and had to flee to safety with my children into a domestic violence shelter without the option to take my much-loved dogs, I never got to see them again. They ended up at the pound and likely euthanised. You can read more of my story at My Saving Grace and find great resources if you are interested in the link!
The pain and injustice I felt have never left me, it still haunts me to this day. I cant change my story and bring my dogs back but I can change other peoples stories.
My experiences in life led me on a journey of reflection, self -education and understanding of why things happen. I learnt about intergenerational poverty, intergenerational violence and the link between animal abuse and family violence. Thousands of studies support the link in fact ” Over the past 35 years, researchers and professionals in a variety of human services and animal welfare disciplines have established significant correlations between animal abuse, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, elder abuse and other forms of violence. Mistreating animals is no longer seen as an isolated incident that can be ignored: it is often an indicator or predictor crime and a “red flag” warning sign that other family members in the household may not be safe ” says the National Link Coalition. Seventy-six percent of animal abusers also abuse a family member. Seventy percent of animal abusers have criminal records and More than Fifty percent of schoolyard shooters have histories of animal cruelty. (US Studies).
“The Link” is fast becoming the most accepted and researched theory behind the interconnectedness between animal abuse and domestic violence.
63% of Australian own a pet
Over 70% of women reporting domestic violence incidents said their
abusers hurt, killed or threatened their pets
— (Ascione, 1998)
Males are responsible for almost all acts of violence towards
humans and pets.
— (Arkow 2016: Tong 2015; Tiplads 2013)
Animal cruelty is a way of exerting power and control in
domestic violence situations.
18% and 48% of battered
women have delayed their decision to leave
or have returned to their batterer
out of fear for the welfare of their pets or livestock
— (Ascione, 2007).
Australian studies – when leaving with their animals:
92% were turned away from refuges,
70% from government rental,
60% from private rental
and 33% from family and friends
— (Tong 2015)
” Only a few women’s Refuge’s in Australia offer a safe haven for both pets and their families. Domestic violence and animal abuse happen in both rural and urban areas. It’s not just cats and dogs that are targeted. Chickens, horses and even llamas have been harmed.” Says My Saving Grace Witnessing domestic violence and animal abuse is a well-documented part of the cycle of family violence. Children exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to abuse animals. Exposure to violence has long-term effects on emotional health. Witnessing animal abuse as a child was found to be the SINGLE BIGGEST PREDICTOR of FUTURE VIOLENCE, making children eight times more likely to be violent.
We are in the process of developing an animal-assisted program that will target children who have witnessed domestic violence and animal abuse as an intervention to stop the cycle.
Research pilot program Animal Victims of Domestic and family violence: Raising youth awareness
Coorey, Lyla and Coorey-Ewings, Carl, Animal Victims of Domestic and Family Violence: Raising Youth Awareness, Animal Studies Journal, 7(1), 2018, 1-40.