Beyond Domestic Violence, Companion Animals and Independent Agency: Why as criminologists we need to converse beyond speciesism, towards an intersectional approach

This is Associate Professor Di Turgoose and Dr Ruth E. McKie’s 5th blog post in a series of 6 on pets and domestic abuse. This post focuses on the national reach of their work in the summer of 2019 at the ‘Hidden Victims’ panel of the British Society of Criminology (BSC) Annual conference where Di and Ruth were invited to present by the @victims BSC research group. You can access the victims research website here

We were invited to contribute an academic paper to the Victimology Research Group Annual Panel on our work on pets and domestic abuse at the Annual BSC conference. You can access the British Society of Criminology website here (

The conference is the highlight of the criminologist’s calendar for the year in the UK with delegates travelling from across the world to attend. This provided us with a national platform to discuss our work bridging the boundaries between traditional victimology and a victimology that incorporates animal abuse and domestic abuse. Thus, we relished the opportunity of presenting to this audience which consisted of victimology experts in the domestic violence and abuse field, particularly as they may have been less familiar/unfamiliar with the concepts of speciesism and argumentation on human-animal relationships.

Our paper argued that the concept of denial of agency is equally applicable to the underexplored area of non-human animals namely pets as hidden victims of domestic abuse. We incorporated perspectives from eco-feminism and green criminology to challenge speciesism in the traditional Criminal Justice System and its practices in England and Wales.  In doing so, we proposed a theoretical and ontological diversification within the field of domestic abuse studies, to help give voice to non-humans as independent agents that experience domestic abuse.

Our paper was titled beyond Domestic Violence, Companion Animals and Independent Agency:  Why as criminologists we need to converse beyond speciesism, towards an intersectional approach. You can access our paper here

Through this presentation we planned to start a conversation that companion animals/pets should be recognised as victims experiencing domestic abuse and therefore worthy of victimhood status in their own ‘right.’ Following our paper others have contacted us to thank us for highlighting the issue, bringing awareness to it, and inform us of their interest and wish to collaborate.  At the time of writing we have subsequently been granted ethical approval for an empirical mixed methods study to progress our work in this area in 2020. 

#domesticviolence #companionanimals #pets #hiddenvictims #speciesism #eco-feminism

Dr Ruth E. McKie is a Senior Lecturer in the Community & Criminal Justice Division at DMU. Ruth’s PhD explored climate change denial & criminology.  She is subject expert in Environmental Crime & Harm, researching various crimes e.g. environmental crime & animal abuse. Contact Ruth on or via twitter @ruthmckie1

Di Turgoose is a Teacher Fellow & Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Sciences at DMU.  She is a pracademic with 20 year’s work experience in the Criminal Justice System with perpetrators & victims of crime.  She is subject expert in domestic abuse for the MOJ. Contact Di at or via twitter @pracademiccrime

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