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Family violence victims sought for research study

A research study being conducted across rural Alberta to determine the role played by family pets and livestock in domestic violence situations is seeking former victims of family violence willing to share their experiences to help others.
Volunteers will be asked if the animals were threatened or harmed by the abuser, if concern for the animals kept them from seeking safety, and if they had any children who knew of or were impacted by animal abuse.
“Past studies have shown that up to 48 per cent of victims delayed leaving an abusive situation out of concern for their pets,” said Tim Battle, director of education for the Alberta SPCA, the sponsor of the study. “We’re expanding the study to include farm animals, as well as the effects on children.”
The study, being conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of Calgary, received approval from the ethics review committee last year.
Surveys are being conducted at emergency shelters in rural areas throughout the province, and results are expected to be available by the end of 2011.
In addition to the surveys, the study hopes to include personal stories of victims — which can paint a vivid picture of what they have gone through.
This is important since statistics can tell the magnitude of a problem, but the first-person accounts describe the situation in a way that others can put themselves in the victims’ shoes.
“So often in these situations, a person’s love for their animal is used against them,” Battle said. “The more we understand about these situations, the more we can help both the human and animal victims of violence.”
Anyone in Alberta who is willing to share their experience of domestic violence while owning animals, either pets or livestock, is urged to contact Donna at 403-650-4608 or
Victims’ identities will be kept confidential.

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