11 de noviembre de 2011
Lecture discusses connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence
“The Co-Occurrence of Animal and Human Violence,” a lecture at the Downtown campus Thursday night, was the fourth installment of the Fall 2011 Humanities Lecture Series. Risley-Curtiss used several photos to prove that abuse of animals is prevalent and plays a part in abuse of humans.
“I include these pictures because I think it’s important to see,” she said. “If we don’t see what we’re talking about, it’s easy for us to ignore it.”
Risley-Curtiss’ lecture revealed various findings of the link between criminal activity and animal abuse. Looking at animal cruelty as an indicator of abuse in the home was a new revelation, according to Risley-Curtiss’ findings as well as other studies done by her colleagues at other universities.
“This is an important topic that a lot of people don’t want to hear about,” she said.
The offender is not always a person who was directly abused as a child, Risley-Curtiss said. Sometimes, the father in a case of domestic violence will exercise power over a dog in order to harm the family. These cases are equally harmful but rarely used in court as cases when violence against people is involved, she said.
“It should be considered child abuse to watch a pet being killed,” she said.
Risley-Curtiss said media has played a part in perpetuating the contrasting theory that people move from animals to harming people. Whenever a criminal is captured, the media looks back to see if he or she had a history of abusing animals. In reality, some cases violence has occurred throughout the criminal’s life.
“Animal abuse actually predicted the presence of family violence instead of the other way around,” she said.
Rattling off statistics, Risley-Curtiss explained that the vast majority of the women in domestic violence shelters described being emotionally close to their companion animals and distraught by the abuse their animals experienced.
“The women actually delay two to three months to leave an abusive relationship when there is a pet involved,” she said.
Children and Animals Together, a program Risley-Curtiss founded at the request of judicial powers looking to rehabilitate troubled youths, cannot always help the troubled individuals.
“We don’t have a magic bullet,” she said. “I don’t know if we know enough to help them.”
The program spans various lengths of time, depending on the child’s sentence, where children are in constant interaction with animals to create a human-animal bond to build empathy.
“We teach that animals have feelings,” Risley-Curtiss said. “They have the same needs as us.”
Risley-Curtiss said she is hopeful that the future of this program will “raise the bar” to identifying the problem of animal abuse so that the cycle can be stopped.
“Kids aren’t born abusing animals,” she said. “But we are never the sole intervention.”
The lecture series will continue next Thursday with Dennis Dalton’s presentation, “Non-Violent Change and Reform Today: Lessons from Gandhi.”