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Animal abuse in the context of adult intimate partner violence: A systematic review

By Michelle Cleary, Deependra K. Thapa, Sancia West, Mark Westman, Rachel Kornhaber

Category Journal Articles

This systematic review focused on animal cruelty in abusive adult intimate partner relationships with a specific focus on the prevalence, motivations, and impact of animal abuse on victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) and the pets involved. Peer-reviewed research articles were sourced from online databases PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus and PsycInfo in July 2020. Overall, 427 records were retrieved, of which 35 articles from 30 studies were included in this review. Relevant data were extracted, with results presented as a narrative summary. The findings showed that the prevalence of animal abuse is high in households with intimate partner violence (range: 21%–89%) and there is a significant relationship between intimate partner violence and animal abuse. Both are often perpetrated concurrently, with animal abuse used as a mechanism to control the partner and facilitate intimate partner violence. Animal abuse affected a victim's decision to leave the abusive relationship and seek support and had an ongoing psychological impact on both animal and human victims. The findings have practical implications for organizations, professionals and researchers working in the field of intimate partner violence and animal abuse.    


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2021
Publication Title Aggression and Violent Behavior
Volume 61
Pages 17
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.avb.2021.101676
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal abuse
  2. Animal roles
  3. Domestic violence
  4. open access
  5. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access