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Argumentative Essay

Popular opinion over the last few decades has dictated that there is a clear connection
between domestic violence and animal abuse. Politics take this argument seriously, and crossreporting has become a common factor in these cases, where those accused of domestic abuse are
also reported to animal maltreatment organizations. However, arguments have been made against
cross-reporting and even the correlation between animal and human violence simply because
there is not proven studies claiming one causes the other. Despite this claim, research studies
have been conducted and found a close correlation to domestic violence and animal
maltreatment.
Recently, research has been especially interested in preventative mental health, keeping
disturbed or abused children from lashing out or developing psychological issues and become
troubled adults. Ignoring these children poses a threat to future partners. Their children could be
threatened by placing them in to roles where they have complete or partial control of those
around them, when initially they had little to no control over their own lives. Findings from a
study by Felthous and Kellert found that certain aspects of childhood animal cruelty are helpful
when identifying aggressive individuals, mostly for the fact that childhood cruelty breeds
psychological trauma (Dadds 370). In a research study by DeViney, Dickert, and Lockwood,
80% of households with physical abuse towards children also had records of companion animal
abuse (DenGue, Sara and David DiLillo 1040). Correlation of animal and human violence in this
case is extremely high, indicating that either type of abuse is and indicator for the other. Either
abuse can cause trauma to all victims involved, including the partners, children, and animals
abused either mentally, physically, or sexually. Psychological trauma can affect everyone

differently, but the unknown outcomes of abuse are what people and law enforcement are
concerned about. In the study, they payed particular attention to direct involvement, lack of selfrestraint, lack of remorse, variety of cruelty acts, variety of species victimized, inclusion of
socially valued species (e.g., pets), and motivations for cruelty (Dadds 371). They found that a
pattern of aggression was recognized through analysis of past violent behavior. This is what
connects domestic violence to animal maltreatment in this case. People may have been brought
up violent, or born with aggressive tendencies (nature vs nurture), but a combination of these two
seem to have the most impact on troubled children growing up to be troubled adults. The pattern
of violence is unstable and random, but one link is clear; domestic violence typically results in
psychologically damaged, possibly violent children with distorted social development. The
majority of children who do abuse animals are preschool age, but parental reporting of abuse
may not be completely accurate, and children may begin to hide the acts of violence, especially
as they develop. It was found that 10-30% of referred children were abusers in a study by
Achenbach and Edelbrock (Ascione 41). Although this is only one symptom of conduct disorder
(CD), one study found that 82% of children in this category who abused animals were diagnosed
with CD. CD involves a prolonged pattern of antisocial behavior in children, and is linked with
mental disability, so those children involved had serious psychological problems that may
indicated them as future abusers. Furthermore, one survey taken from a womans shelter
attempted to discover the facts about animal abuse and domestic violence, and of the woman
who entered shelters who had children, 74 percent of the women interviewed by Ascione
reported owning a pet or having owned one in the past twelve months. Threats or actual harm to
pets was reported by 71 percent of these women, and 57 percent reported that their pets had been
hurt or killed by their adult partner (Ascione 46). This data is astounding because it indicated

the animal abuse and domestic violence issue is intertwined, and their children more than likely
were subjected to experience or witness violence as well. The most troubling find was that many
woman, almost 20%, reported that they delayed entering a shelter because they feared for their
pets wellbeing. This delay could be up to two months. Two more months of abuse for the care of
their pets. Women have been known to wait up to four months after leaving their batterer, either
living in their cars or on the streets with their pets until a pet friendly shelter opened. Getting
children out of these situations is imperative for that fact that in many cases, the abuser will kill,
harm, or threaten the pets in the home in order to coerce children in to sexual abuse or to keep
them quiet about the violence. Now, the batterer is not only assuming control over the pet but the
children as well, who typically wouldnt speak out for fear of their pet being harmed (Facts about
Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence). Traumatized children who have been exposed to either
domestic abuse or animal abuse are then forced to live in cars or on the streets to escape their
abuser. Womens shelters today have become more open about pets coming in with families,
which has helped women feel more comfortable about leaving their batterers. Despite this, an
unknown number of children around the world are exposed to animal abuse because they have
nowhere else to go. However, research has begun to focus on discovering the abusers perception
of animal and domestic abuse (Ascione 50). Most research in the past was done by taking victim
and witness testimony about violence, but uncovering how and why the batterer inflicts violence
on others is necessary for complete understanding of the topic. If animal abuse occurred in front
of children, for example, then interviewing the abuser may be insightful as to their perception of
the childs welfare and whether they believe the abuse actually harms the child in any way. It
could also uncover their reasons for the abuse and whether they were subjected to abuse as well.
Taking the abusers side of the abuse could be the most effective way to intervene in the violence

and prevent more from happening in the future. This theory is untested as of now, but finding a
way to help or rehabilitate the batterer would treat the issue, not just help prevent it from
happening, like past endeavors to help victims leave abusers. Children exposure to violence is an
in depth topic that is pertinent because exposure may also lead to desensitization (Ascione 49). In
western culture, typically children are much sheltered than other areas of the world, so data on
exposure to violence versus no exposure hasnt been studied because no direct cause can be
established, so other factors need to be taken into consideration. However, desensitization is a
factor that must be studied because it can make abuse seem reasonable or normal, like a woman
who justifies her husband abusing her because she did something wrong. And this is dangerous.
Not only can children believe the abuse is justified, they may begin to believe it is normal and
have no remorse about being violent towards others, including animals. Harming animals is a
normal act, and they may be more likely to abuse animals or others because of the control they
can have over others. Two studies using maternal reports found that children exposed to violence
were more likely to be cruel to animals; those sexually abused were five times more likely than
nonabused (DenGue, Sara and David DiLillo 1041). In these cases, the children were violent
towards animals, but shied from family conflict initially. Perhaps animal abuse was their gateway
to further abuse, but the violence was definitely one way they were able to exert control over
their situation in the only way they knew how. Their social learning is disrupted in a severe way,
and the abuse done to them is the first step in psychological damage.
Law in recent years has been altered to abide by the opinion because of the seemingly
connected issue, even if there wasnt adequate evidence at the time of direct causation of animal
abuse and domestic violence. But, as recent research studies have shown, causation does not rule
out correlation. The majority of inmates with domestic violence in their past, either committed

by them or as victims themselves, interviewed in a study admitted that there was animal abuse
involved with the violence as well (Dadds 372). The interesting thing about this study was that
they interviewed the abusers, and not the victims. Insight from both sides is necessary to be
certain how and why the abuse occurs. Cross-reporting has become a common law practice,
mostly because of the connection between interspecies and outers species violence. Crossreporting is, for example, a case involving domestic violence also being reported to animal
cruelty officers in the event there might be pets. Animal cruelty investigations do often bring
attention to chronic domestic abuse occurring simultaneously (Animal Cruelty and Domestic
Violence). This finding from multiple studies began the push for anti-animal abuse legislation. In
July of 2000, 32 states had made some aspects of animal abuse a felony-level crime. Dog
fighting is a felony in 43 states, and cockfighting is a felony in thirteen (Ascione 47). In 2000,
information on the specifics of animal abuse was not completely lucid, but studies were available
to show a connection to animal maltreatment. This combined with growing public opinion about
animal abuse spurred a new era for political involvement in animal abuse. And legislation has
been more than willing to accommodate to these new beliefs. This is especially because
intentional animal abuse has been viewed as symptomatic of mental issues and disorders
(Ascione 48). People with mental disorders that encourage aggressive, violent tendencies rarely
seek aid, yet still pose a significant threat to the public if they were to act out on their impulses
because they typically do not feel remorse for their actions, or they do not feel bad for long. It is
easy to see why the law would be interested in finding these individuals in order to make them
seek rehabilitation. Even against their wishes. However, it may be in the best interest of the
general public to find and help these people, who may continue the cycle of violence. The cycle
of violence involves any type of violent behavior, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, where

the abuser blames the victim to minimize the violence, woos the victim once, who believes the
violence may finally be over, and then the violence continues. The cycle continues until the
victim leaves, dies, or some traumatic event forces the abuser to cease the abuse (Animal Cruelty
and Domestic Violence). And the abuse is not done out of uncontrollable anger, but a perceived
need for control. Victims often blame themselves, so it is no surprise that many victims will
admit to an animal being abused before they admit they were. And studies about victims who are
trapped in a household of abuse cannot be easily accomplished. If the cycle were to continue, it
would only get worse, graduating from animal abuse to domestic violence, or animal to human
violence. The cycle is furthermore passed on in the worst way; to the children and usually
mothers who are victims of the abuse.
A clear connection between domestic violence and animal maltreatment can be seen
throughout multiple research studies conducted over the last few decades. Childhood abuse plays
a key role in the continuation of violence towards people and animals, and legislation is pushing
more towards finding abusers and rehabilitating them to end the cycle of violence. Although
domestic abuse does not cause animal maltreatment, nor does animal abuse cause human
violence, they typically correlate. Cross-reporting people who commit either crimes may be the
best way to monitor abuse in households, and even if people argue there is no causation, they
shouldnt rule out obvious connection between the two types of abuse.

Works Cited
Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence. Animal Legal Defense Fund. ALDF. n.d. Web. 30
March, 2016. <aldf.org/resources/when-your-companion-animal-has-beenharmed/animal-cruelty-and-domestic-violence/>
Ascione, F.R., and Lockwood, R. Cruelty to animals: Changing psychological, social, and
legislative perspectives. Humane Society Press. (2001): 39-53. Web. 30 March, 2016.
Dadds, Mark R., Cynthia M. Turner and John McAloon. Developmental Links Between
Cruelty to Animals and Human Violence. Australian & New Zealand Journal of
Criminology 35.3 (Dec, 2002): 363-382. Web. 30 March, 2016.
DenGue, Sara and David DiLillo. Is Animal Cruelty a Red Flag for Family Violence?
Investigating Co-Occurring Violence toward Children, Partners, and Pets. J Interpers
Violence. 24.6 (Jun, 2009): 1036-1056. Web. 30 March, 2016.
Facts about Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence. American Humane Association. American
Humane Association. n.d. Web. 30 March, 2016.