Pets and Domestic Abuse Research: Local Impact March 2019

This is Di Turgoose and Ruth E. McKie’s second blog in a series of six on Pets/Companion Animals and Domestic Abuse. This blog details the local reach, influence and impact of their work in this under researched area at a local event on 1st March 2019.

The local event we refer to in this blog is the 3rd bi-annual conference hosted by De Montfort University’s (DMU) Sexual Violence and Domestic Violence (SVDV) Research Network, in partnership with members of the East Midlands Criminal and Civil Justice Working Group.  The conference focus was on children as victims of domestic abuse. Children are vulnerable as non-adults in households where domestic abuse takes place, as are pets.

We wanted to explore both the similarities and differences in the complexity of vulnerabilities in domestic abuse relationships by way of discussion with delegates at the conference.  We felt that a hard copy visual poster was the best mechanism to enable us to facilitate such a discussion. We entitled our poster ‘Children and Pets: The Hidden Victims of Domestic Abuse: Where Action & Activism merge’

Turgoose, D and McKie R. E. (2019) You can access our poster here

Our poster was discussed by a wide range of delegates and stimulated many conversations and sharing of perspectives (both personal and organisational) regarding perceptions of and attitudes to pets being recognised as domestic abuse victims, in their own right.  We are grateful to Dr Christina Quinlan Director of the Institute of Research in Criminology, Community Education and Social Justice (CCESJ) for the funding grant that enabled us to print off our poster in hard copy for the conference.  You can access more information about Dr Quinlan’s Research Institute via this link here

In essence this event enabled us to raise awareness of the issues of pets as hidden vulnerable victims and explore the steps that need to be taken to draw attention to and develop a research and policy agenda that recognises pets as vulnerable victims in their own right in domestic abuse relationships in the future.  As researchers we are calling for a broader theoretical development to help raise awareness and understanding of the dynamics involved by utilising the exceptionally well known ‘Power and Control Wheel’ model (Pence and Paymer cited in Johnson 2006) which has been used solely for human victims previously. 

Raising this awareness has important implications for service delivery and community resources which may help professionals and advocates to develop the support mechanisms these victims really need to survive and best recover from the trauma of domestic abuse. This will be the scope of a project we will be undertaking in early 2020 as joint principal investigators.


Pence, E.  and Paymar, in Johnson, M (2008) A Typology of Domestic Violence: Intimate Terrorism, Violent Resistance, and Situational Couple Violence London University Press

Turgoose, D and R. E McKie (2019) Children and Pets: The Hidden Victims of Domestic Violence & Abuse (DVA): Where Action & Activism merge! 3rd biannual SVDV Conference Sexual and Domestic Abuse in the lives of Children and Young People March 1st 2019

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Dr Ruth E. McKie (below left) is a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Community and Criminal Justice at DMU. Ruth completed her PhD in 2018 exploring climate change denial and criminology.  She is a subject expert in Environmental Crime and Harm, conducting research in this field exploring various crimes such as environmental crime and animal abuse. You can contact Ruth on or via twitter @ruthmckie1

Di Turgoose (below right) is a Teacher Fellow, Aspiring National Teacher Fellow and Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Sciences at DMU.  Di is a pracademic with 20 years experience working in the Criminal Justice System with perpetrators and victims of crime.  She is a subject expert in domestic abuse alongside being an expert advisor for the Ministry of Justice. You can contact Di on or via twitter @pracademiccrime

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