Help-Seeking Among Abused Women With Pets: Evidence From a Canadian Sample

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Abstract

A growing body of research has highlighted the significant co-occurrence of violence against women and companion animals in abusive households. Collectively, this work has also documented that sizable proportions of women with pets sampled report that they delayed leaving their partner due to fear for their pets' safety. Using data from 86 residents of 16 battered women's shelters in Canada, this study begins to tease apart the relationship between five types of animal maltreatment (emotional abuse, threats to harm, neglect, physical abuse, and severe physical abuse) and women's deliberations to leave violent relationships. The findings indicate that while the specific types of animal maltreatment are significant motivators for leaving an abusive partner, the length of the relationship and the physical abuse experienced by the woman better explain the degree to which concern for the well-being of the pet kept them from leaving their abuser earlier.

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