Using data collected by Statistics Canada, a research team based out of Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C., will examine how the experience of animal abuse, which often co-occurs with IPV, relates to survivors’ health and well-being. The analysis of this data will be paired with survivor interviews to further explore how companion animals influence help-seeking and healing from violence.
“Despite a well-established link between IPV and animal abuse, little research has examined the specific impact of pets on IPV,” says the study’s lead investigator, Rochelle Stevenson, PhD, an associate professor at Thompson Rivers University.
“Our research will document pets are victims in their own right, as well as important partners in the healing journey of human survivors,” adds Dr. Stevenson, who is working with co-investigators Allison Gray, PhD, of Western University, and Patti Timmons Fritz, PhD, of the University of Windsor.
Existing data demonstrates most IPV survivors report pet abuse or the threat of pet abuse, according to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), which is helping fund the study. Despite this, only a small percentage of domestic violence shelters offer on-site pet services. Without the ability to leave with their pets, as many as half of abuse survivors will delay leaving violent situations.
“Our goal is to use these findings to encourage more domestic violence shelters and services to embrace pet-friendly measures that will allow survivors of IPV and their pets to heal together,” Stevenson says.
“This project will provide new, timely data in support of the human-animal bond and the need to provide better care for survivors of IPV and their pets,” adds HABRI president, Steven Feldman.