Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore the differences in perceptions of animal companions between survivors and non-experiencers of domestic violence (DV). Survivors in the shelter group (SG) were interviewed via focus group method. Non-experiencers in the community group (CG) were interviewed via semi-structured interview method. Participants were adult women with previous and/or current animal companions. Transcripts were analyzed in terms of thematic analysis. Three key themes, with various subthemes emerged: Theme 1: Relationship between guardian and animal companion; Theme 2: Animal companion perceived as important by guardian; and Theme 3: Relationship between animal companions and abuse. Overall, many women viewed their animal companions as important and as members of the family. The SG women were separated from their animal companions, viewed money as a barrier to having animals, and viewed animals as a protective support system. The CG women were generally not separated from the animal companions, did not view money as a barrier to having animals, and perceived their animals as a form of responsibility rather than support. As existing literature (e.g., Meyer, 2012; Barrett et al., 2018; Stevenson, Fitzgerald & Barrett, 2018) indicates that many women delay leaving abusive relationships due to concern for their animal companions, the goal of this research is to ensure that both human and nonhuman survivors of violence are safe in situations of DV. Given that SG women saw their animals as sources of protection and support, domestic violence shelters should allow animal companions. To mitigate potential issues surrounding having animals in shelters (e.g., fears and allergies), there should be specific rules in place. Overall, housing should aim to allow companion animals and not discriminate against those with animals (speciesism). The goal is to see a future where, regardless of species, all survivors of domestic violence are allowed in a safe space.

Department

Sociology and Anthropology

Faculty Advisor

Rochelle Stevenson

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Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse: The Differences in Perceptions of Animal Companions Between survivors and Non-experiencers of Abuse

The aim of this study was to explore the differences in perceptions of animal companions between survivors and non-experiencers of domestic violence (DV). Survivors in the shelter group (SG) were interviewed via focus group method. Non-experiencers in the community group (CG) were interviewed via semi-structured interview method. Participants were adult women with previous and/or current animal companions. Transcripts were analyzed in terms of thematic analysis. Three key themes, with various subthemes emerged: Theme 1: Relationship between guardian and animal companion; Theme 2: Animal companion perceived as important by guardian; and Theme 3: Relationship between animal companions and abuse. Overall, many women viewed their animal companions as important and as members of the family. The SG women were separated from their animal companions, viewed money as a barrier to having animals, and viewed animals as a protective support system. The CG women were generally not separated from the animal companions, did not view money as a barrier to having animals, and perceived their animals as a form of responsibility rather than support. As existing literature (e.g., Meyer, 2012; Barrett et al., 2018; Stevenson, Fitzgerald & Barrett, 2018) indicates that many women delay leaving abusive relationships due to concern for their animal companions, the goal of this research is to ensure that both human and nonhuman survivors of violence are safe in situations of DV. Given that SG women saw their animals as sources of protection and support, domestic violence shelters should allow animal companions. To mitigate potential issues surrounding having animals in shelters (e.g., fears and allergies), there should be specific rules in place. Overall, housing should aim to allow companion animals and not discriminate against those with animals (speciesism). The goal is to see a future where, regardless of species, all survivors of domestic violence are allowed in a safe space.

 

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