The scourge of sexist violence does not only affect women, many men use pets to exercise cruel psychological abuse , with threats such as “If you leave the house I’ll kill the cat” “If you tell someone I’ll shoot the cat by the window” . Animals are used as instruments to have total control over women, the continuous threats and fear, leads them to silence the violence they experience from the outside and not leave the family home for not leaving their animal in the hands of the aggressor , a violent being, perfectly capable of hitting or killing him.
There have been many cases of women who decide to leave home to save their lives without really being aware that their abuser would be able to use the family animal to continue harming them. Some examples of cruelty:
- Phone call to his girlfriend who hears the dog’s wails as he is brutally beaten.
- He puts the cat in the washing machine asking his wife to come home in exchange for stopping the program, the cat died.
- In front of his wife he stamped the family puppy on the ground, stepping on its head until it died.
- He kills the dog, records it, and sends the video to his girlfriend.
Foster homes reject victims’ animals
Reporting their abuser is not an easy decision for a victim , the fear is such that they suffer from anxiety, depression or come to have thoughts of suicide as the only option to end the torture. Fortunately, more and more complaints are filed. In the most serious cases in which the victim’s departure from the home is essential to save his life, he must be transferred to a foster home where he cannot be located by the aggressor.
For women who live with animals , being for them part of their family, another nightmare begins , in most foster homes they do not accept animals . They are aware that they cannot leave them in the hands of the aggressor . Faced with such a dramatic situation, a woman who already suffers gender violence must choose between her life and that of her pet, they face a tough decision . Many of them reject foster homes for not accepting their animals. Organic Law 1/2004 , of December 28, on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender Violence, does not consider animals as part of the family nucleus .
How to save animals from victims of gender violence
We must help women who are “trapped” in their homes , they will be systematically beaten, putting their lives at risk, for not “abandoning” their animal. Many people think: because a relative or a friend does not keep them, the answer is very simple, their destiny, like that of the woman, must be confidential . One of the security measures is that the aggressor does not know his fate, he would end up taking the animal to mistreat it and continue exercising his power over the victim through psychological abuse.
Animal protection entities have been helping these animals for years , welcoming them in their centers . They always try to make them live in foster homes , they are very traumatized animals that need therapy to trust people again , compressive behavior after living in a home where violence has prevailed . Some animals are in a foster situation until their victim reorganizes his life and can return to take care of the animal. On other occasions, unfortunately, there are more complicated situations and a definitive home is sought for them where they can give them a stable family life.
What is the VIOPET program?
VIOPET is a program that seeks temporary homes for the animals of women victims of gender violence. An initiative launched by the General Directorate for Animal Rights and the Observatory of Violence Towards Animals . Different professionals such as doctors , veterinarians , educators , criminologists , FFCCS , social workers or protectors collaborate in the program. In one year they have helped more than 300 women and their animals throughout the national territory. A necessary initiative so that no woman continues to suffer sexist violence for not leaving her animal helpless in the home of the abuser.
016: Telephone information and care service for victims of mistreatment due to gender violence. Email: [email protected]