The overall purpose of this project is to investigate how pet ownership, and more specifically animal cruelty, impacts the mental illness of victims of intimate partner violence (IPV).
This will be accomplished by quantifying the burden of animal cruelty in this population to provide community organizations evidence for requesting additional resources, assessing the role of the emotions which are manipulated by an abuser in choices made for a victim and her pet, and evaluating the impact of the human-animal bond in this special population on mental illness.
- Characterize the association between pet ownership, animal cruelty, and mental illness (major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and suicidal ideation) among female victims of IPV at an emergency shelter
- Examine the impact of pet ownership and animal cruelty on delays in and barriers to help-seeking behaviors among women at an emergency shelter.
Researchers hypothesize that IPV victims with experiences of animal cruelty by their abuser will have indication of more severe mental illness than women without experiences of animal cruelty; and that victims with experiences of animal cruelty will take significantly more time in seeking help due to
unique barriers, like fear for their animal’s safety, than victims without experiences of animal cruelty.
This is a cross-sectional study among women seeking care at a local women’s shelter. We will develop and disseminate surveys to describe and analyze the overlap between animal abuse and IPV and its contribution to delays in seeking help. The design of this study will be descriptive in nature with the primary goal of capturing data on prevalence of the potential risk factors and outcomes.
This study will be able to look across the studied relationships of IPV with animal cruelty and IPV with mental illness and bridge the gap by answering questions on the role that a human-animal bond plays in mental illness and care for women with experiences of IPV. Based on the frequency of these known risk factors seen in prior studies, the current study proposes to potentially identify hundreds of cases of animal cruelty, delayed help-seeking, and mental illness (e.g., depression, anxiety, PTSD).