Monday, May 23, 2016

Pet Project

Pet Project

Taking your pet with you when fleeing an abuser is mutually beneficial for you and Fido

Pet Project
There’s nothing like the unconditional love between owner and pet. So it’s no wonder that having to leave a pet behind is a huge yet often overlooked barrier to leaving an abuser.

In fact, somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of survivors have delayed leaving out of fear for what might happen to a pet, according to psychologist and ASPCA senior vice president Randall Lockwood in a 2014 Associated Press article. Lockwood further stated that research has shown that about 70 percent of domestic violence survivors report batterers also threatened, injured or killed their pets. Survivors also report pets left behind as a reason for returning to an abuser.
“The pets that are normally a source of comfort in families can become targeted, particularly if the abuser sees that as a way to get the power or control they're looking for without inflicting harm directly on the child or spouse,” Lockwood says.

Having a pet with a survivor not only alleviates the survivor’s worry regarding the pet’s well-being, but it also offers other healing benefits. Research shows simply interacting with animals raises levels of oxytocin in the human body, according to the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation. Oxytocin is the feel-good hormone said to lower anxiety and heart rate, and has positive effects on PTSD and depression. In fact, studies show that after just 30 minutes with a dog, a human’s happiness hormones dopamine and endorphins increase and the stress hormone cortisol decreases.

Pets also offer companionship and can help combat feelings of loneliness. And they offer a great constant for children, too. Kids thrive on stability, and having their furry sibling with them to comfort them and to take care of can be soothing.

Ideally, you’ll find a shelter that will accept your pet along with you. When you search for local shelters on our site, each listing will show whether the program offers pet shelter. Of course, not all shelters have the space or funding to care for pets in addition to people. Read about additional options when it comes to finding a place for pets in No Four-Legged Family Member Left Behind. To learn more about the steps to preparing to leave, read When It’s Time to Go: Part I.

Monday, May 16, 2016

No Four-Legged Family Member Left Behind

No Four-Legged Family Member Left Behind

When you and the family pet need to escape violence, where can you go?
No Four-Legged Family Member Left Behind
Animal abuse and domestic violence are intricately, and sadly, linked. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, abusers of animals are five times as likely to harm humans, and nearly half of the survivors of domestic partners stay in violent households because they’re afraid to leave their animals. [1] Studies indicate that anywhere from 48 percent to 71 percent of battered women have pets that also have been abused or killed by the woman’s partner.[2]

Animal abuse is also a form of intimidation found on the “power and control wheel,” a tool used by advocates of domestic violence to explain how most abusers attempt to control their victims. Often times, animal abuse is not a problem with temper or anger management, but rather a way to establish control by killing, harming or threatening to harm animals and rob survivors of the comfort they provide.

Advocacy groups and lawmakers are paying attention and want to protect these four-legged family members. Twenty-five states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all have laws that permit pet protection orders. Forty-seven states currently regard animal cruelty as a felony. [3]

Pets and Domestic Violence

If you are a survivor or the friend or family member of a survivor who is reluctant to leave an abusive partner because of the fear that he or she will harm the family pet, make sure to include your pet in your safety plan. If you can’t find a friend to house your pet for you while you seek shelter, locate a safe haven. Cities all around the country are organizing these safe havens for pets.

The Animal Welfare Institute, a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., has been fighting for animals’ rights since 1951. Their original plight was to end the suffering of animals being used for experimentation, but over years, they widened their efforts to help animals in many different types of unhealthy situations, abusive households being one of them. They created an online map of national safe havens for pets, shelters that will help survivors of domestic violence place their animals out of harms way so that they may seek a safe shelter for themselves. In some cases, pets will temporarily go to a trusted foster home and in others, can accompany the survivor to a shelter.
To find a safe haven for your pet, go to Enter your zip code to find nearby domestic violence programs. Each listing indicates whether the program allows or offers pet shelter. Another online resource to explore is


Monday, May 9, 2016

When It's Time to Go: Part II

When It's Time to Go: Part II

When you’re ready to leave, how to get out safely and make sure he can't find you

When It's Time to Go: Part II
A safety plan is important to think about when a survivor is ready to leave an abusive partner. Part I of this article talked about what to pack in the bag a survivor should take with them, if there’s time. Next, it is important to think about how to get out of your home safely.
Practice different ways to get out if you have to leave in a hurry, or if you have to leave while your abusive partner is at home. recommends also thinking about any weapons in the house and ways you could possibly get them out of the house before you leave. If you can leave when your abuser is not at home, this is the safest option. If you can’t, then think about alternative times to leave, such as when you’re taking out the trash, walking the family pet or going to the store. Again, practice these scenarios.

Safety Plan: Location, Location, Location

Think about four places you could go. These may include a domestic violence shelter that you can locate at, a trusted friend’s house that the abuser does not know or another safe location in a different city. The Domestic Violence Hotline suggests survivors may consider creating a false trail, if there’s time. To do this, you can call motels, real estate agencies and schools in a town that’s at least six hours away from where you’re planning to go. Ask questions that requires them to call you back at your house so that your abuser may believe this is where you’re going. [1]

Abusers are intent on controlling survivor’s lives, warns When abusers feel a loss of control, such as when a victim leaves, the abuse can increase. This is why it’s especially important to take extreme cautions after leaving. [2] Make sure you acquire a new cell phone so you cannot be traced. Be careful to whom you give your new address and phone number to. If you haven’t already, secure a personal protection order. Consider changing your children’s schools and, if you can, change your work hours. If you’re staying in the same city, use different stores and frequent different social spots, advises The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Find emotional support by calling the Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Finally, don’t hesitate to call 911 if you feel you are in danger at any point during or after you leave.


Monday, May 2, 2016

When It's Time to Go: Part I

When It's Time to Go: Part I

A checklist of the essentials you need to take with you when leaving an abusive partner

When It's Time to Go: Part I 
When survivors are ready to leave an abusive partner, it can feel both empowering and frightening. Abusers may have threatened them in the past that, if they leave, they will be harmed or their children or family members will be harmed. A vital step to take before leaving an abuser is to think of a safety plan. Advises, “Not all of these suggestions will work for everyone, and some could even place you in greater danger. You have to do what you think is best to keep yourself and your children safe.”
Creating a safety plan means figuring out how and when you’re going to leave, where you’re going to go and how to keep these details private from your abuser. The first step is to pack a bag that you can easily locate, retrieve or take with you when you leave. suggests the following things be included. [1]

Items to Take When Leaving Abusive Relationship

  • Spare car keys and your driver’s license
  • Credit cards, money and checkbook
  • Phone numbers for friends, relatives, doctors, schools, taxi services and your local domestic violence organization
  • A change of clothing
  • Any medication you typically take
  • Important documents, or copies of them for both you and your children (birth certificates, social security cards, school records and immunizations, pay stubs, bank account information, marriage license, will)
  • Any evidence you’ve been collecting to show you’ve been abused (photos of injuries, police records, medical records, a journal or log)
  • A few personal items you want to keep (photo albums, jewelry, etc.)
  • Additional items to consider can be found here.
Keep this bag in a place where the abuser cannot find it, such as at a trusted friend’s or neighbor’s house. Also, hide an extra set of car keys somewhere that you can easily access, in case the abuser takes the car keys to prevent you from leaving. If you have pets, think about someone you trust who could take them before or when you leave, if you’re worried about their safety.

Part II of this article will talk about the steps to consider next in your safety plan.