Pilot study to determine the prevalence of abuse towards animals when women are victims of domestic abuse in Scotland


Henly, Elaine and Goodwin, Deborah (2005) Pilot study to determine the prevalence of abuse towards animals when women are victims of domestic abuse in Scotland. At Exploring Human-Animal Relationships. The 14th Annual Conference of the International Society for Anthrozoology, Niagra Falls, USA, 11 - 12 Jul 2005.

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Description/Abstract

Research conducted in the USA (Ascione, 1996), has shown when a woman is a victim of
domestic violence her pet may also be abused. Fears of repercussions against her pet were cited as a
reason for staying with the abuser. This pilot study aimed to apply Ascione’s methods in Scotland to
investigate whether similar results would be obtained and to draw attention to this issue.
The sample group comprised 33 women seeking refuge at North Ayrshire Women’s Aid
between 10th March 2004 and 10th July 2004. The sample group included pet owners (n=13) of which x
had children and non-pet owners (n=20) of which y had children. Participation in this study was
voluntary.
The women’s key worker interviewed women-seeking refuge two days after they had sought
refuge. The women were then asked a series of questions that aimed to establish; pet ownership; any
abuse of pets; if concern pet welfare had affected their decision to leave; the location of pets left
behind and if a Pet Fostering Service was used; if not, did they know of such schemes. This was the Deleted:
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first visit for sixty nine% of pet owners to a Women’s Aid Refuge. Fifty three% of pet owners had
children living with them. Eighty four% of pet owners reported that their partner had hurt or killed the
animal, compared to fifty seven% in the Ascione (1996) study. Eighty four% of pet owners reported
that their partner had threatened to hurt or kill the pet, compared to seventy one% in Ascione (1996)
study. Seventy seven% of pet owners said that concern for the safety of their pet had prevented them
from leaving the abusive environment sooner, compared to eighteen% in Ascione (1996) study.
These results present an initial investigation of the prevalence of pet abuse in Scotland when
women are victims of domestic violence. It is hoped that this pilot study will generate further research
into the link between the abuse of women, children and animals in Scotland and generate multidisciplinary
policies that help to combat this problem. Although these pilot study results should be
interpreted cautiously, they suggest that the prevalence of abuse towards animals is greater in Scotland
in the USA. The authors suggest that further research should be conducted in order to ascertain if this
is the case and to investigate contributory factors.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Psychology > Division of Cognition
ePrint ID: 63493
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:45
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/63493

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