My cat is my baby. He’s one of the family, and the biggest baby at that. He’s at my feet nearly every chance he gets. If I’m in the kitchen, he’s there, waiting for scraps. I spoil him and love on him more than normal because I’m making up for lost time. There was a short period of about two months that he was without me. I had to leave a situation that had been nearly debilitating to my mental health. I left my cat in the “care” of a person that didn’t even like him. I had no other option. For myself and my children, we had to get out. During the two months that he was without me, I worried. I wondered if he was being properly cared for. Was he still getting thrown off of the bed and up against the wall? Was he getting kicked out of the way? Was he being loved on and fed regularly? When most of us think about our pets or talk about our pets, we think of them as a member of the family. They are soul companions for those who live alone, they are “fur babies” to couples that don’t have children, and they have grown up with us from childhood to adulthood. They are loyal, and depend on us for all of their needs.
Animal cruelty is prevalent in many households that experience abuse. Pet abuse is one of many indications of domestic partner violence, according to a six-year “gold standard” study conducted in 11 metropolitan cities. In both domestic violence and child abuse situations, abusers may manipulate and control their human victims through threatened or actual violence against their pets.
According to the Humane Society, researchers have found that between 71% and 83% of women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their partners also abused or killed the family pet. Another study found that in families under supervision for physical abuse of their children, pet abuse was concurrent in 88% of the families. Violence against animals is one of many indicators of distress in a household. Whether it’s due to lack of empathy, mental illness, or substance abuse, a person who fails to provide even basic care for their pet is more likely to neglect the basic needs of other members in the household.
From the time that I was able to understand human emotions, when I started realizing that my actions could cause reactions in others, I have been compassionate. I was a mediator, always trying my hardest to keep the peace. I treated everyone and everything with the same amount of respect, from my siblings, to my pets, right down to my baby dolls. I cared deeply for everything! I can remember getting upset with my cousin when we were kids because he stomped on an anthill. I thought, how cruel it was that he destroyed something they had worked so tirelessly to complete. It has always been confounding to me that people could be cruel to their pets. What makes them abusive? Were they abused as children? Are they mentally ill? Do they simply feel as though they need to have power over everything and everyone in their lives? Most likely they are suffering from more than one of those aspects.
Whether it’s due to lack of empathy, mental illness, or substance abuse, a person who fails to provide even basic care for their pet is more likely to neglect the basic needs of other members in the household.
Now that we are aware of a connection between domestic violence toward humans and animal cruelty, we can safeguard ourselves from relationships that could turn abusive in the future. A huge red flag that everyone should look for is how your partner treats their pets or your pets. Watch their behavior around your animals. Are they neglectful? Does your partner become irrationally livid when your pet exhibits normal animal behavior, like getting into the trash? Does your partner yell at your pet when they are aggravated? Have they ever kicked, hit, thrown, or beat your pet? They may justify the beating with a statement like: “It was the dogs fault, he got into the trash, he should know better.” But does that excuse the abuser and give them the right to kick the shit out of their dog? I mean that in a literal sense. On one occasion, I witnessed my dog being kicked so hard by my partner that it caused anal gland expression on impact. Why would I think that our pets would be treated any differently than I was? In keeping myself in an abusive relationship, I also kept my pets in a situation where they were subjected to animal cruelty. It wasn’t all the time, but it was enough that they suffered, too. If we can become aware and pick up on these indicators from the beginning, then we can save ourselves, our children, and our pets from being abused in the future.
These types of behaviors are not justifiable, they are not normal, and we need to spread awareness so that we can put a stop to the hundreds that are subjected to the atrocity of abuse every day. I spent over a decade coming up with excuses for the abusive behaviors of others.
We need to take a stand and fight back. We will no longer allow abusers to make victims out of us, out of our children, or out of our pets! Pay attention to the red flags. No matter what the offender may say to justify their actions, there is never a good reason to exhibit violence against another living creature. It seems like common sense, but abusers are master manipulators. They can justify their actions so well that it keeps their victims in a blind state for years. Watch out for the signs of a potential abuser early on to prevent yourself from falling into their trap. Share the love with everyone.