Date of Conferral
Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that impacts all members of a household, including pets. There is comprehensive quantitative evidence to suggest that domestic violence and pet abuse commonly co-occur; however, as the personal accounts of pet-owning survivors have started to emerge through qualitative investigation, more research is needed to understand the unique experiences of pet abuse that take place alongside instances of domestic violence. This phenomenological investigation utilized control balance theory and a feminist framework to uncover the experiences of survivors who entered their pets into an animal care program specifically designed to help during times of domestic violence escape. Data from interviews with 12 participants were compared to secondary qualitative data from anonymous animal abuse surveys at the community partner organization. A lens of interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to identify global themes related to survivors' experiences of pet ownership while escaping domestic violence. From these testimonies, pets were revealed to be important to consider in responding to domestic violence because pets not only played key roles of emotional support in the survivors' lives, but they were also threatened and harmed by abusers to control victims. Furthermore, the provision of pet care for survivors who were escaping domestic violence was determined to be a meaningful intervention. Through learning of the experiences of pet ownership along the trajectory of recovery for domestic violence survivors, advocates may be better prepared to serve clients at this intersection. Furthermore, the empirical understanding of the role of the human-animal bond in domestic violence survivorship was augmented by this study.