Intimate Partner Violence and Animal Abuse in an Immigrant-Rich Sample of Mother–Child Dyads Recruited From Domestic Violence Programs

Christie A. Hartman, Tina Hageman, James Williams, Frank R. Ascione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examined rates of animal abuse in pet-owning families experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). We also examined whether higher levels of IPV (as measured by subscales from the Conflict Tactics Scales) predicted increased risk for partner-perpetrated animal abuse. Our sample included 291 mother–child dyads, where the mothers sought services from domestic violence agencies. Nearly half the sample is comprised of Mexican immigrants. Mothers reported that 11.7% of partners threatened to harm a pet and 26.1% actually harmed a pet, the latter of which represents a lower rate than in similar studies. When examining animal abuse by “Hispanic status,” follow-up analyses revealed significant omnibus differences between groups, in that non-Hispanic U.S.-born partners (mostly White) displayed higher rates of harming pets (41%) than either U.S.-born or Mexican-born Hispanic groups (27% and 12.5%, respectively). Differences in rates for only threatening (but not harming) pets were not significant, possibly due to a small number of partners (n = 32) in this group. When examining whether partners’ IPV predicted only threatening to harm pets, no IPV subscale variables (Physical Assault, Psychological Aggression, Injury, or Sexual Coercion) were significant after controlling for income, education, and Hispanic status. When examining actual harm to pets, more Psychological Aggression and less Physical Assault significantly predicted slightly higher risk of harm. However, Mexican-born partners had nearly 4 times lower risk of harming a pet. Overall, these results suggest that Hispanic men who are perpetrators of IPV are less likely to harm pets than non-Hispanic perpetrators of IPV, particularly if Mexican-born. Considering that the United States has a significant proportion of Mexican immigrants, it may be worthwhile to explore the topics of IPV and animal abuse within this group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1047
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • animal cruelty
  • domestic violence
  • intimate partner violence
  • Mexican immigrants and intimate partner violence
  • pet abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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