Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty: Legislature Designates Today “New Mexico Link Awareness Day”
The NM Legislature has designated February 10th “New Mexico LINK Awareness Day” to honor and remember all the victims of family violence in our state and to raise awareness of “The Link” between domestic violence and animal cruelty. “The Link” refers to the connection between animal abuse and human violence that has been proven in numerous psychology, sociology and criminology studies. Understanding “the Link” allows law enforcement, animal control officers, social workers, lawyers, judges and others in society to not only identify violent behaviors, but also gives insight into effective prevention techniques and appropriate treatment for abusers and victims.
Senate Joint Memorial 27 (SJM 27) was sponsored by Senator Eric Griego. Senator Griego points out the importance of recognizing The Link in a statement released today: “Animal abuse is often an indicator of other types of family violence including child and/or spousal abuse. The more aware we become to the links between the various types of family violence, the better equipped we are to stop all violence in a household.”
Some disheartening facts about The Link from nationwide studies:
- Up to 71% of women (with companion animals) entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened their animals for revenge or to psychologically control them.
- 68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women, and 75% in the presence of the children, to psychologically control and coerce them.
- Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their companion animals should they leave.
- Abusers kill, harm, or threaten children’s animals to coerce them into sexual abuse or to force them to remain silent about abuse.
- Disturbed children often kill or harm animals to emulate their parents’ conduct, to prevent the abuser from killing the pet, or to take out their aggressions on another victim.
These facts point to a real need for more awareness of “The Link.” As the recognition of this proven link between all types of family violence becomes more well-known in New Mexico, there will be more opportunities to stop or prevent family violence. For example:
- Detection of animal abuse in a family could lead to the detection and stopping of child and/or spousal abuse, if the signs are recognized and reported to the appropriate authorities.
- Earlier detection of animal abuse by children can mean successful intervention in the “cycle of violence” via proven therapy treatments such as AniCare Child.
- Acknowledgement of the importance of animals in a family structure will lead to more domestic violence shelters accepting animals, which will allow more battered women to leave their abusers.
SJM 27 passed the Senate by a vote of 22-17, with 3 Senators absent.
Coming Up in June: The 7th Annual Governor’s Conference on The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence will be held in June of this year. The conference is free and open to any member of the public interested in reducing the incidences of violence in NM’s families. This year’s conference will focus on raising the awareness of The Link, and encouraging cross-reporting of family violence by law enforcement, child care workers, veterinarians, animal control officers, etc.
Democrats Jennings and Munoz voted against this SJR. JA Smith was absent. All the Republicans, of course, voted against it.
BTW, this is one improvement in the legislature this year, that the floor votes on bills are now available online. Prior to this, you had to be there and go to the clerk's office and ask for a hard copy, which they usually only had available for a day or two (since they had many other bills to take care of).
Now we need those committee votes to table bills to be recorded and available online, as they are often used to kill a bill before it even reaches the floor of whichever chamber.
Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Feb 11, 2010 9:10:40 AM