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In reported abuse cases of older adults in New York State, the abuser was a spouse or partner 26% of the time. Many victims feel they can’t leave the situation because they are afraid to leave a pet behind and most shelters are not equipped to house pets. Finally, it is not uncommon for abusers to train animals to attack victims and children, so that the animal is used as a weapon to further the abuse.

See OPDV’s Information Guide: Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence . There are many reasons a victim of domestic violence may stay in the relationship for some time.

Regarding victims, there is no reliable research that shows that girls who witness violence in the home seek out abusive partners as adults, but it is possible they may stay in a relationship with an abusive partner longer than someone who was not a child witness. However, these studies don’t take into account the intensity of the violence, the severity of the injuries or the impact on the victim.

It’s important to understand the distinctions between domestic abuse (coercive controlling violence), responsive violence, and fights (situational couple violence). While abuse of a child by a family member is “domestic” by definition, when we talk about “domestic violence,” we are generally referring to certain crimes committed by one intimate partner (current or former spouse or dating partner, regardless of age or gender) against another.

Additional resources available in most communities may include: local domestic violence program, police, probation, Family Court, local civil legal services, local Department of Social Services (includes Child Protective Services, Adult Protective Services), NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and local Victim Assistance Programs. Domestic violence programs offer 24-hour hotlines, confidential counseling and emergency housing (shelter) for domestic violence victims and their children.

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