October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the US. The pets of victims are frequently also terrorized and hurt, and many victims stay in dangerous situations because they cannot manage to take their pets with them, and cannot bear to leave them behind.
Two organizations in Wisconsin have formed a partnership to help domestic abuse victims and their pets to escape the hideous climate of abuse and begin new and better lives.
Safe Haven – providing shelter for animals of domestic violence victims
The Wisconsin Humane Society and Sojourner Family Peace Center have partnered to provide the Safe Haven program, which offers up to 60 days of shelter for animals of domestic violence victims.
Research finds that 71 percent of women with animals seeking shelter reported that their partner had threatened, hurt or killed their animal (Ascione, Weber and Wood, 1997). Abusers often use animals as pawns to manipulate and control their victim, taking advantage of the victim’s concern for his or her animal. Abusers may threaten, harm, or kill animals to intimidate victims, demand silence about the abuse, or prevent them from leaving.
Many victims are hesitant to leave a dangerous situation because they fear for their animal’s safety. The Safe Haven program makes it possible for victims to leave an abusive relationship without losing their companion animal. Animals provide companionship, comfort, and unconditional love to victims and children affected by domestic violence, and preserving the bond between families and their animals is vitally important.
To learn more about the program, please visit: http://www.wihumane.org/volunteer/SafeHavenProgram.aspx
Video created by: Lauren Burke