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Scared dog

The Impact of Lockdown on Domestic Violence

30.4.2020

FOUR PAWS' Guide for Animal Lovers

The measures which have been put in place to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19), such as the order to stay at home, can be frustrating for some, but for those in fear of/or experiencing domestic abuse, it can be an extremely anxious and frightening time.

During lockdown, many people are working shorter hours or from home. Children are at home because playgrounds, nurseries and schools are closed. Most families are having to spend time together day and night and are dealing with fears about their security, their health, and their future. Not everyone is up to this mental and emotional "challenge" and experts have warned of an expected increase in domestic violence as lockdowns continue.

Experience shows that in these situations, pets are also the victims of domestic violence. They can be beaten, kicked or even tortured to release an abuser’s anger or to exert emotional or psychological pressure on partners or family members, giving the abuser power. The consequences of domestic violence are traumatic for the victims, human and animals alike.

What to do when violence is suspected

For the protection of the animal and perhaps also its owners, any suspected violence must be reported. It is difficult to observe violence against animals when we are all confined to our homes, but in such circumstances noise alerts can be a crucial sign, as well as injuries:

  • Animals screaming/howling more often
  • Family members shouting at partners to leave the animal alone
  • Children crying when the animal suffers audibly
  • Animals appearing injured when in the garden or out on walks (if you already suspect domestic abuse)

Some animal welfare charities and shelters will take in animals who need temporary accommodation due to domestic violence and anyone experiencing domestic abuse should consider temporarily rehoming their pets while they seek help to address the situation.

Good citizenship is required

Good citizenry is important here in many ways. It can save the health and possibly even the life of an animal. It can protect families from abuse and it can also prevent children from witnessing violence against animals, a known factor which for some children can lead to them becoming animal abusers themselves later in life.