The connection between animal abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse in intimate relationships: Evidence from a nationally representative sample of the general public.

Fitzgerald, A.J., Barrett, B.J., Gray, A., & Cheung, C.H. (2020).
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1 – 23.
Type of Profession:

This article examines the co-occurrence of animal abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV) with a specific focus on emotional and financial abuse.

Expanded Abstract: 

Using data from the intimate partner victimization module of the 2014 Canadian General Social Survey (n = 17,950), the authors find that reporting one’s intimate partner threatened or abused companion animals in the home increased the probability that one had experienced at least one form of emotional abuse or financial abuse by 38.6% (p ≤ .001) and 7.5% (p ≤ .001), respectively. These studies have provided empirical support for the decades-old observation noted in the IPV literature that companion animals can be harmed as part of the cycle of violence (e.g., Ganley, 1985; Renzetti, 1992; Walker, 1979). Studies utilizing comparison groups further indicate that the level of animal maltreatment is significantly higher in homes with IPV than those without.

Moreover, studies indicate that women in the study were significantly more likely to report their partner emotionally or financially abused them and threatened or mistreated their pet(s); the connection between animal maltreatment and IPV is particularly pronounced for emotional IPV when compared with other forms of IPV; challenge the commonplace conceptualization of animal abuse as a form of property abuse; and suggest a need for a more nuanced understanding of IPV perpetrators vis-à-vis animal maltreatment. This is the first study to use nationally representative data to assess the co-occurrence of animal abuse and IPV, and as such, it makes significant contributions to the interdisciplinary literature on animal abuse and IPV.