Title of Presentation

Session 1: "Her fur is so thin - she's stressed": Trauma and Stress in Abused Animal Companions

Sub-theme

Research and Theory

Keywords

animals, women, abuse, trauma

Start Date

11-10-2018 9:45 AM

End Date

11-10-2018 10:45 AM

Abstract

We know that when women and children are in an abusive situation, there is a heightened risk of abuse for their animal companions. There has not been, however, a centering of what this abuse means for the animal companion and how they might respond.

Research has shown that animals exposed to traumatic events, like subjection to invasive lab experiments or natural disasters, display symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Trauma responses of animals include aggression, hiding, shedding, crying, excessive licking, lack of appetite, and physical health concerns.

Animal companions who are subject to abuse seem to be at a heightened risk of trauma and can display trauma symptoms, but there is no research on how to recognize and respond to trauma and stress in abused animal companions within the context of violence against women and children.

This paper addresses this gap by sharing current research on trauma and stress in animals, in addition to sharing personal experiences from years of fostering cats. It aims to aid us in identifying trauma and stress in abused animal companions so that we can better understand its existence and manifestations. Furthermore, some strategies to soothe, comfort, and treat abused animal companions - whether they be in shelter, foster care, or the abusive home - will be provided.

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Oct 11th, 9:45 AM Oct 11th, 10:45 AM

Session 1: "Her fur is so thin - she's stressed": Trauma and Stress in Abused Animal Companions

We know that when women and children are in an abusive situation, there is a heightened risk of abuse for their animal companions. There has not been, however, a centering of what this abuse means for the animal companion and how they might respond.

Research has shown that animals exposed to traumatic events, like subjection to invasive lab experiments or natural disasters, display symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Trauma responses of animals include aggression, hiding, shedding, crying, excessive licking, lack of appetite, and physical health concerns.

Animal companions who are subject to abuse seem to be at a heightened risk of trauma and can display trauma symptoms, but there is no research on how to recognize and respond to trauma and stress in abused animal companions within the context of violence against women and children.

This paper addresses this gap by sharing current research on trauma and stress in animals, in addition to sharing personal experiences from years of fostering cats. It aims to aid us in identifying trauma and stress in abused animal companions so that we can better understand its existence and manifestations. Furthermore, some strategies to soothe, comfort, and treat abused animal companions - whether they be in shelter, foster care, or the abusive home - will be provided.