Non-Human Animals at the Intersection of Domestic Violence: The Call for anthropocentricism to GIVE WAY!

This is Associate Professor Di Turgoose and Dr R E McKie’s 6th blog in a series of 6 on their work on pets and domestic abuse.  The focus of this blog in on the international reach of their work in the autumn of 2019 at the European Conference on Domestic Violence conference.

In September 2019 at the 3rd Bi-annual European Conference on Domestic Violence (ECDV) held in Oslo, Norway, Di delivered a paper on our work on pets and domestic abuse. The ECDV is viewed as the greatest platform for international impact on the conference circuit for domestic violence and abuse. Over 800 delegates from 80 countries were in attendance and our contribution at the event was paramount in sustaining and continuing to build and develop our work in this area.

The role of animals as victims within the Criminal Justice System (CJS) has come under some scrutiny; albeit the literature is both sporadic and fragmented (e.g. Moore, 2005; Madeline, 2000). Nevertheless, some researchers have also begun to engage in an ontological evaluation of animals as victims of crime in England and wales as have we (see Flynn and Hall 2017 for example).

However, one under explored area is the role of pets and their victim status in domestic abuse ’cases’.  At the conference, Di presented the findings of our small empirical research project on undergraduate trainee criminal justice practitioner’s interpretations of agency and victimization with pets in domestic abuse situations. For us, engaging these future and emerging practitioners in this area of research and ascertaining their perspectives is integral for meeting some of the future challenges in research and practice in these areas if change is to be realised.

Our paper was entitled ‘Non-Human Animals at the Intersection of Domestic Violence; The Call for anthropocentricism to GIVE WAY!

Our findings indicated that initially students’ views were challenged by the notion that pets might be considered independent agents of victimization. However, they began to recognise the relevance of considering anthropocentric views in relation to domestic abuse and pets. The themes raised have practice and pedagogical worth which requires further study.  At the time of writing we have secured ethical approval for a project to advance our research further in this area.

During the conference Di was invited to meet the Mayor of Oslo at the Oslo City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize is presented annually as a thank you for our ground breaking research committed to advancing an understanding of domestic abuse across species.

An outcome of Di presenting our work on the international domestic abuse stage, is the fostering of links to collaborate with academics across countries.  It has led to developing key areas of research and impact including the creation and expansion of networking opportunities and the emerging knowledge transfer from our work to others in the field. Importantly, this has set the next step towards our research focused agenda to create an environment for ‘greening’ the domestic violence and abuse agenda addressing speciesism in the research and practice of domestic abuse and pet abuse.

In terms of outcomes/next steps Di and Ruth are working towards achieving the following 3 key targets in 2020-2021.

  1. Knowledge transfer and the sharing of creative innovations in this emerging cross- field, with the intent of greening the domestic violence and abuse agenda by addressing speciesism.
  2. The creation and expansion of networking opportunities across disciplines/sectors
  3. The facilitation of an open dialogue between key stakeholders.

 #domesticviolence #domesticabuse #pets #speciesism #anthropocentric #companionanimals

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

All content posted remains the property of the author(s) and must not be copied.  However, quoting some part of the content is allowed provided you link back to the original article.

If you feel you might be interested in submitting a guest blog for us please contact in the first instance to discuss this