Domestic violence and animal abuse study: Can you take this Australian survey?

A large proportion of pet owning victims of domestic violence report that the perpetrator is physically harming or making threats to their pets.

A new Australia-wide study has been launched, that aims to identify and quantify the links between Domestic and Family Violence and the abuse of animals in Australia. It is the first Australia-wide study of its kind.

This study would like you to take their survey. You do not need to be a victim of domestic violence to complete the survey. Being or having been a pet owner is enough.

About domestic violence and animal abuse

Abusive threats and actions are a particularly effective form of power and control over pet-owning victims of domestic violence. It is known that many victims will delay seeking shelter because they cannot safely rehouse their pets and are reluctant to leave them behind (often the perpetrator may have threatened to harm the pets if the victim leaves).   Additionally, perpetrators who abuse the pets are more dangerous than those who do not – they demonstrate increased rates of physical and sexual violence and stalking, and in one American study harming a pet was one of the top 3 indicators that they will go on to kill their partner.

This study

As well as establishing the extent and nature of co-abuse, this project also focuses on establishing what the associated risks are to Australian victims, particularly if they cannot access animal-specific services. There is significant concern about the increased risk to victims living in rural and remote Australia who are particularly vulnerable and may require specialised services. 

Another aspect of the study is that it aims to establish what the current relationships are between victims, their pets, and veterinarians, and what victims think about how the Australian veterinary profession and other authorities and services (such as animal welfare groups, social services, police) could better serve their needs.

The study has been developed over the last 12 months in consultation with Domestic Violence NSW, Domestic Violence NSW Service Management, and the St Georges Domestic Violence Inter-agency group (NSW). The study is an online questionnaire, and can be done by the respondent alone, or with assistance from support workers. 

Who should complete the survey?

Any pet or animal owner (current or previous) may be a respondent. 

The respondent may be a person who has or is experiencing a dysfunctional and/or abusive relationship – abuse directed to themselves, children, any animals, or any combination of the three.  For the purposes of this study all forms of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, etc.) are included.

Answers from those who have not necessarily experienced domestic violence are also relevant to the study as a comparison group.

This survey aims to be distributed as widely within Australia as possible, through multiple agencies, services, refuges, or online portals (including social media), to access and hear from the most representative population possible. Please share among your social networks.

Thank you and stay safe.

Take Survey


NB. More details about this survey are provided on the survey website. Questions about this survey should not be directed to Dr Jo.

animal abuse survey

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  1. Interesting. Filled it out. Very thought provoking. Shelters for family & their pets is a GREAT idea. I’m sure there are so many situations where people need shelter from abusive family members but can’t leave because they have nowhere to house their beloved pets.

  2. Done. I agree with the previous comment. It must be very difficult for many people in abusive relationships to protect their animals which are often used as bargaining chips. However, I don’t think many vets are equipped to deal with these situations. It is asking a lot of them to provide counselling. Mandatory reporting is probably not the answer, but a help line could be very useful.

Thanks for reading my blog. I look forward to reading your comments, Jo