The connection between animal abuse and human violence is what many psychologists term "The Link". This term refers to a wealth of evidence showing violence does not discriminate: those who harm animals are also likely to harm people.
In domestic violence situations, abusers often seek to manipulate and control others through threatened or actual violence against beloved animals. Australian and international studies suggest that animal abuse occurs in up to 70% of domestic and family violence (DFV) cases. Research also shows that 18-48% of victim-survivors did not leave or delayed leaving for fear of leaving their companion animals with the perpetrator - a figure that increased to 68% in cases where the animal had already been harmed.
We need to protect all victims of domestic violence. This is why I am working to ensure:
- Animals can be named and protected on domestic violence orders as victims in their own right
- Courts are able to grant custody of animals to victim/survivors
- All rental accommodation and transitional emergency accommodation becomes companion animal friendly
When I found out that a man charged with serious animal cruelty, who tied a dog to a tree and repeatedly stabbed her to death, was still potentially allowed to work with children - I knew our laws needed to change.
Witnessing animal cruelty has a devastating impact on children. Our laws must recognise that people who harm animals are a risk to the broader community.
The AJP have made some advances in this space including reforming the Working With Children Check system so that anyone convicted of serious animal cruelty, as well as anyone convicted of possessing, producing or distributing animal crush or bestiality videos, can never work with children. People convicted of other animal cruelty offences will also be subject to a mandatory assessment by child protection agencies.
But there’s still more to be done. In order to protect children, we need to increase the severity of penalties if a child was present during an act of animal cruelty, and we need better information sharing and cooperation between child protection and animal protection agencies.
Violence does not discriminate. If we fail to take violent acts towards animals seriously, we will never overcome violence in other areas of our society.
If you would like to get more involved in the campaign to protect animal victims of domestic and family violence, please contact Lucy’s Project HERE.
If you are experiencing violence please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or chat online at www.1800respect.org.au