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New Research to Examine the Healing Influence of Pets for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors

Human Animal Bond Research Institute awards grant to Thompson Rivers University.

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(PRESS RELEASE) WASHINGTON, DC – The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) today announced funding for a new research project at Thompson Rivers University that will explore the role of companion animals (pets) within incidents of intimate partner violence (IPV), including how pets can contribute to the wellbeing of IPV survivors.

“Despite a well-established link between IPV and animal abuse, little research has examined the specific impact of pets on IPV,” explained Dr. Rochelle Stevenson, lead investigator for the study. With co-investigators Dr. Allison Gray (Western University) and Dr. Patti Timmons Fritz (University of Windsor), Stevenson offered that “our research will document that pets are victims in their own right as well as important partners in the healing journey of human survivors.”

This multi-method study will use data from the 2018 Statistics Canada administered Survey on Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS), a nationally representative sample of Canadian adults, to understand how the experience of animal abuse, which often co-occurs with IPV, relates to survivors’ health and wellbeing. The analysis of this data will be paired with interviews with survivors to explore how companion animals influence help-seeking and healing from violence.

Existing data shows that the majority of IPV survivors report pet abuse or the threat of pet abuse. Despite this, only a small percentage of domestic violence shelters offer on-site pet services. Without the ability to leave with their pets, as many as half of these survivors will delay leaving violent situations, putting themselves—and their pets—at further risk.

“Our goal is to use these findings to encourage more domestic violence shelters and services to embrace pet-friendly measures that will allow survivors of IPV and their pets to heal together,” added Stevenson.

“HABRI is proud to fund research with real-world impact,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI. “This project will provide new, timely data in support of the human-animal bond and the need to provide better care for survivors of IPV and their pets.”

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About HABRI

HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit www.habri.org.

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