Facts about the “Link” & the Cycle of Violence

According to Phil Arkow and Frank Ascione, “The Link” and the cycle of violence is an adult who abuses a child or animal as a result of witnessing abuse or being a victim of child abuse themselves. This same adult will pass these violent traits and patterns onto their child where the cycle will begin again.

Domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse are closely attached to one another and the cycle will continue until someone steps in to stop it. Below are statistics that show the high correlation between adult, child and animal abuse.

The Latham Foundation Publication of “Breaking the Cycle of Violence: A practical guide” found that childhood of adolescent histories of cruelty have been reported in:

  • 25% of aggressive male prisoners
  • 30% of convicted child molesters
  • 36% of assaulters of women
  • 46% of incarcerated sexual homicide perpetrators
  • 48% of convicted rapists

An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

68% of battered women reported violence toward their animals. 87% occurred in the presence of the woman and 75% occurred in the presence of children (Quinlisk, 1994-95).

71% of pet-owning women entering a shelter reported that their husband or boyfriend killed, harmed or threatened an animal. 32% of those had admitted that their children had hurt or killed an animal (Ascione, 1998).

A 1997 study by the MSPCA and Northeastern University found that 70% of animal abusers had committed at least one other criminal offense and almost 40% had committed violent crimes against people.

A history of animal abuse was found in 25% of aggressive male criminals, 30% of convicted child molesters, 36% of those who assaulted women, and 46% of those convicted of sexual homicide.(Petrovoski, 1997)

The Buffalo, NY police department and the SPCA of Erie County found that 1/3 of the residences with animal abuse complaints also had domestic violence complaints. (1998)

A survey of women in a safe house in Utah found that 20% delayed leaving the abusive situation out of fear that their pet would be harmed. Data currently being collected in Canada found almost 50% delayed leaving. (Ascione, 1997)

The 1995 Utah survey also found that children witnessed the animal abuse in over 60% of the cases and 32% of women reported that one or more of their children hurt or killed a pet.

In 1991 the U.S. Board on Child Abuse and Neglect released a report indicating that more than 2.5 million American children are suffering from abuse and neglect.

The New Jersey study also found that in 2/3 of these cases, the abusive parent had injured or killed a pet, and in 1/3 of the cases, children were the animal abusers.