Cruelty towards the family pet: a survey of women experiencing domestic violence on the Central Coast, New South Wales

Cheryl Travers, Andrew Dixon, Karen Thorne and Kaye Spicer
Med J Aust 2009; 191 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02855.x
Published online: 5 October 2009

To the Editor: Pet abuse is considered another form of family abuse, and is a powerful marker for other forms of violence happening in the home. Women and children living with violence, isolated by their abuser, often form intense bonds with their pets. Perpetrators will use animal cruelty as a means to intimidate and control their partners and children.1,2 Women will put themselves at increased risk due to concern for their pets.1-5

  • Cheryl Travers1
  • Andrew Dixon1
  • Karen Thorne2
  • Kaye Spicer3

  • 1 Public Health Unit, Northern Sydney Central Coast Health, Ourimbah, NSW.
  • 2 RSPCA New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 Central Coast Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, Gosford, NSW.



We thank Dr Peter Lewis (Area Director, Northern Sydney Central Coast Health Public Health Unit) and Mr Steven Coleman (Chief Executive Officer, RSPCA NSW) for their support, Dr Eleonora Gullone (Monash University) and Professor Frank Ascione (Utah University) for comment on the questionnaire, and the women who took part in the survey.


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