Analysis of the interview data is underway and here’s a sneak peak at some of our early – thematic – findings.
Theme One: The importance of animals in the lives of those fleeing domestic violence and abuse and the need to be relocated together
“…he [companion animal] wasn’t thinking I was ugly, he wasn’t thinking I was good at nothing, he thought I was amazing … he didn’t judge me … I could come up and probably tell him whatever I wanted to and he’d just sit there like okay mum, give me a pat”.
“…we spent, I think we spent five weeks homeless, we were living in a motel with the three kids and I applied for everywhere with an animal and it was getting to a point where I was considering not being able to have her”.
“So he’ll just on your lap for hours and hours and hours and hours, yeah and he loves it, that’s all he wants to do is just cuddle you, which is perfect in my situation because I needed that yeah”.
“He protected me and helped me through that, with the abuse, and then because I left him I betrayed him …”
“What it is, is location. They let you have the animals with you … it was short term, again talking with Northern Domestic Violence Service … but so many people do not want to leave, because they can’t – and the fear, the fear of is this animal going to be hurt.”
Theme Two: Animals are affected by violence too and a need to recognize their trauma
“So she was so badly infected and I mean it was getting to a point where in my head I’m thinking we might even have to put her down”.
“And when I actually got her back she [cat] was quite uneasy, very violent, she would attack me a lot and I thought well I’m definitely not going to get rid of her at all … maybe she just feels really uncomfortable with the situation being around violence and being moved from house to house.”
“I mean she’s changed as a dog, she’s gone from this timid scared little puppy that would walk around with no confidence whatsoever and now she’s the protector here. Now she’s the protector, she’s the Mother; she goes round, she cleans all the kids and they get home from school and they know, they just sit there and she’ll just completely cover them in drool, but that’s something she has to do to make herself feel – now she’s free as well.”
Theme Three: Importance of animals in self and children’s recovery.
“In fact she knows that she has to protect the younger kids because they’re still a bit scared at night … and she’ll get on the kid’s bed and she cleans the kids before they go to sleep and then she lays next to them and puts her head on their legs and she knows she has to protect them all night”.
“I was sulking in the bedroom this morning, bit of depression, he just sits at the door and he scratches it, and I guarantee you if you open up the door he’s right there by the door. I’d let him in but if I let him in then he’d be all over me, licking me and there’s no depression.”
“…had I not had him for this past year and a half I probably would have, probably succeeded in killing myself.”
“I wouldn’t be halfway here with, as I am now if it wasn’t for him. So he is my healing process too, he’s therapy in a sense and because I have a hard time admitting that I have mental health issues because of what I’ve been through, sometimes you’re not talking and just being with him is enough”.