My hometown Congressman tells this story — I’m paraphrasing from memory here:
“I was canvassing voters for support of a measure that recognized under the law that animal abuse and domestic violence towards women and children are related, and often exist in the same home. I met a woman at her door who shushed me as soon as I explained the law and said, ‘Say no more.’ She invited me in and showed me a dog kennel on her kitchen floor, and said, ‘My husband used to put the dog in the kennel and kick it around the kitchen, all the while telling me that this was what he would do to me.’”
As a volunteer Victim Advocate, I mostly responded to domestic violence and sexual assault calls. Every time there was a pet in the home, the victim(s) expressed concern about the pets and that concern had helped to prevent their leaving the abuser. Obviously there are other factors in play and it’s rarely for anyone to leave a domestic violence situation. But worry about abandoning a pet is often a huge factor keeping someone trapped.
On the flip side, relief about finding a safe way to keep a pet while leaving an abuser can be such a weight off someone’s mind that it becomes a lifeline in a very difficult time.