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Pets, intimate partner violence, and the abuser's perspective

By Rochelle Stevenson

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Domestic violence remains a serious social issue. In North America, millions of women are victimized each year, and many of these women are victims of violence at the hand of their intimate partners. A small but growing body of research on domestic violence has shown that companion animals are among the victims of such violence. Abuse of or threats to the pets are used to control, manipulate and emotionally abuse the female partner. However, the majority of this research has focused on the perspective of the abused female partner; the male perspective is missing. Through semi-structured interviews with ten incarcerated men who have committed intimate partner violence (IPV), this thesis explores the abuser’s motivations for abuse of the pet as well as their perspective of pets in the context of a violent relationship. The findings indicate that, contrary to previous research, most men do not abuse pets in the relationship, and in fact have positive relationships with their pets. Just as pets are sources of comfort for women in abusive relationships, pets can be sources of comfort and support for the abusive men as well. When incorporated into violence intervention and treatment programs, relationships with pets can provide a venue for men construct a masculine identity in a positive way, and the treatment of animals can illustrate how violence is not an effective solution.

Pages 153
ISBN/ISSN 9780494864104
Publisher University of Ottawa (Canada)
Department Department of Criminology
Degree M.A.
University University of Ottawa
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Family
  4. Females
  5. identity
  6. Interventions
  7. Males
  8. North America
  9. partner abuse
  10. Pet ownership
  11. Pets and companion animals
  12. Police
  13. Social control
  14. sociology
  15. threats