The Necessity of Trauma-Informed Practice for Animal and Human Victims of Violence
Dr. Rochelle Stevenson Celeste Morales

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have seen increases in the number of companion animals in homes. At the same time, domestic violence service agencies have been reporting increases in violence and abuse. Taken together, these trends indicate that more individuals – both animal and human – are at risk of or experiencing violence. The trauma of such violence is something that service agencies encounter through a variety of pathways, from receiving surrendered companion animals to seizing animals from dangerous situations.

We present the results of our research, which was conducted with the goal of understanding the changes needed to prevent re-traumatization of people facing situations of surrender or seizure, as well as establishing the care and protection of companion animals. We interviewed animal service providers, agencies that utilize trauma-informed practices, and individuals with lived experience of seizure and surrender of animals, with a focus on the best practices in a trauma-informed approach, current gaps in service, and suggestions for change.

This presentation will centre on the reasons why a trauma-informed approach is critical when dealing with victims of domestic violence, from the perspectives of the animals, the human victims, and service agency staff. Drawing on the voices of our participants, we offer concrete ideas on incorporating trauma-informed practices into human and animal service organizations.

Key Learnings

  1. To understand the value of trauma-informed practice in situations of domestic violence
  2. To acknowledge the importance of recognizing compassion fatigue and burnout, and gather strategies to identify and manage them
  3. To gather key ideas on how to integrate trauma-informed practices into human and animal service organizations