What would you do if your safety meant risking the life of your best friend?
When facing difficult times, we are lucky to have friends to turn to. Sometimes, it’s our animal companions that bring us the most comfort (no judgment, no discussion, just a friend to sit with us in our times of need). In the case of domestic violence, victims become alienated from friends and family members;
Abusers will often move their victim and the children away from the victim’s family and friends.
Abusers encourage, coerce, limit contact with and lie to alienate their victim from their support systems (friends and family). These tactics give the abuser the ability to maintain control over their victim
We are quick to judge, wondering why victims of abuse don’t just leave! Abusers take away a victim’s confidence; they make victims feel the abuse is justified, and the victim is at fault. Abusers convince victims they are the cause of the attacks. Abusers threaten to harm or even kill animal companions if the victim leaves.
So they stay.
A few months ago, I was contacted by a follower (of my blog) who was brave enough to make the decision to leave an abusive situation and wanted help finding resources. Although she was made to feel insignificant, she found the courage to ask for help.
We judge people who surrender their animal companions, without considering that, in some situations it is actually the best thing to do. Sadly, for too many people this is the case. They make the difficult decision to say goodbye in order to keep them safe.
Thankfully, there is support available for victims of violence AND their companions. I was so glad to know of one such organization that could help her. SafePlaceforPets.org connects people and pets with a safe escape from domestic violence. SafePlaceforPets.org is a RedRover project with the National Link Coalition and Sheltering Animals and Families Together (SAF-T).
RedRover staff and volunteers provide soft hands and warm hearts when animals and people are in need, crisis and pain. We bring animals out of a crisis and into care, and discover new ways to strengthen the common bond between people and animals through these programs
RedRover Programs also include:
RedRover Relief – Provides financial and emotional support to Good Samaritans, animal rescuers and pet owners to help them care for animals in life-threatening situations
RedRover Responders – Shelters and cares for animals displaced by natural disasters and other crises, such as criminal seizures and hoarding cases, in the United States and Canada.
RedRover Readers – A unique community-based literacy program that helps children explore the bond between people and animals through stories and discussion.
Resource Video – http://www.redrover.org/redrover-relief-domestic-violence-resources
The world would be darker and colder without the many good deeds provided by the RedRover team.
Thank you Bailey Mannisto-Ichés, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator at RedRover for sharing the following information with us:
When was RedRover established?
RedRover was founded in 1987.
Mission of Organization
The mission of RedRover is to bring animals out of a crisis and strengthen the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance, and education. RedRover accomplishes its mission by engaging volunteers and supporters, collaborating with others and maximizing the use of online technology.
Domestic Abuse is a very delicate situation. Please describe how you learn about situations and the process of providing assistance is carried out. For example, do you work closely with a team of law enforcement officers and lawyers as well as animal control to ensure everyone’s safety?
Our case managers work directly with victim advocates to provide Safe Escape grants to victims escaping an abusive environment with their pets. SafePlaceforPets.org is an online directory connecting advocates, victims and concerned citizens to the closest pet-friendly domestic violence resources in their area.
Are you able to share an inspirational (happy ending) story with us? How is the program funded?
After living in fear of abuse and violence for months, Andrea* said, “enough.” She was ready to escape her batterer, but only if she could bring her little terrier mix, Clover, with her. When Andrea learned that Metropolitan Center for Women and Children in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, could accept pets thanks to a RedRover Relief Safe Housing grant, Andrea scooped up Clover and escaped safely to the domestic violence shelter.
Clover received lots of attention and daily walks while at the shelter, and Clover’s presence made it easier for Andrea to adjust to life after abuse. After settling in at Metropolitan Center, staff and advocates worked to help Andrea achieve a fresh start by helping her find a pet-friendly apartment and even a new job – giving Clover the chance start anew as well. When Clover and Andrea were ready to leave, the Safe Housing grant from RedRover allowed the shelter to provide Clover with a transportable kennel, sweater, leash, harness, food and toys to start her new life. Staff from Metropolitan Center for Women and Children reported, “As of this date, Clover and her mom are doing well – better, in fact – on their own.”
*Names have been changed to protect identity
For people who might be wondering how they can help – even if their time is limited, what would you suggest and how can they apply to assist?
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitant – telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it – keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life and the life of their pets.
We do a lot of outreach via email and social media. Each October we participate in domestic violence awareness month, and the more social sharing we have to build awareness of the issue of pets and domestic violence the better! You can sign up for our general email newsletter at RedRover.org/Email. We also participate in various third-party fundraisers and donation programs, including SurveyMonkey which brings a considerable amount of donations into RedRover yearly, simply by having our members complete surveys. It requires very little time and makes a huge difference to animals.
For more information on other partnerships and fundraisers check out http://www.redrover.org/Partnerships-and-fundraisers
What are some issues that frustrate you when it comes to the welfare and rescue of victims of abuse and their animal companions? What are your thoughts on how these issues might be addressed and overcome?
Relevant statistics on domestic violence and animal abuse:
- 52 percent of victims in shelters leave their pets with their batterers (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
- Up to 65 percent of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusers because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave (Carlisle-Frank, Frank and Nielsen, 2004)
- 71 percent of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32 percent reported their children had hurt or killed animals (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Most domestic violence shelters do not provide on-site shelter for animals, which is why RedRover is partnering with SAF-T to work toward the goal of having one pet-friendly domestic violence shelter in each state. In 2014 we were able to help by funding shelters in three states. We are still working on 13 more!
More info at: RedRover.org/SafeHousing
The discovery of animal abuse – a horrible crime in itself, can lead investigators to uncover further violence within the home. Abuse of animals may indicate other forms of abuse taking place within the home; domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse. This is referred to as ‘The Link.’
This link between human and animal abuse is extremely important to recognize when investigating any type of violence, as it may uncover more victims below the surface. According to SpotAbuse.org, up to 76 percent of animal abusers also abuse a member of their family.
“When we recognize ‘the link,’ animal welfare groups and human services agencies can work together to break the cycle of violence,” said Esperanza Zúñiga, RedRover Relief’s program manager and advocate for the animal victims of domestic violence.
More info at: http://redrover.org/article/what-deadly-link
Thank you RedRover for all aspects of assistance you provide through your programs. Thank you for providing hope to those individuals who may be without.