I’m a cat person. My life would mean very little at the moment if I had not brought cats into it. The first cat the I owned on my own was Omen. She brought such happiness into my life during such a dark time and she was also the reason I did not leave my relationship with my ex sooner. Despite what was happening to me, knowing that if I left Omen would stay broke me. I also did not trust my ex to care for her as he barely cared for his own senior cat appropriately. I cared for both cats in every way. My ex also would threaten to bring Omen back to the shelter because she sometimes peed outside of the litterbox (easily fixed with a clean box, which he never helped with) and because she shed a lot. So I stayed. What allowed me to end the relationship was when my Mom told me that when I left and moved back home, Omen could come live there as well. I was out of my ex’s house within a week.
The Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy, is a cat behaviourist and animal activist who has taught me SO MUCH about cats. Don’t worry, this connects with the above story and more. A member of my cat fostering community posted a video today by Jackson Galaxy that talked about domestic violence and animals. In his video, he says that 65% of American women who are experiencing violence will delay leaving the relationship because they do not know what to do with their animals. Jackson’s campaign to provide a place for these animals so their guardians can leave their relationships without worry. You can watch the video here and donate to the cause here.
The video post is filled with stories from people who stayed in abusive relationships to keep their pets safe and stories of having to leave them behind. No post on abuse would be complete without blaming it on mental health issues, in this case, personality disorders. Fortunately, there are many smart people out there who told the person who made that comment that they are wrong (including myself).
Will some abusers have mental health or addiction issues? Of course! Will these issues contribute to their abuse? Possibly. Abuse is less about emotional dysfunction and more about power, control, and misogyny. Young boys and girls are taught in a variety of ways that being a boy is “better” than being a girl. Male’s who grow up to abuse their female partners had it enforced upon them that women do not have rights, are not worthy of respect and that women should serve them. There are extremes in this thinking that results in various types of abuse towards women, ranging from objectification up to physical abuse. The motives are still the same and the motive is not mental health related.
An added link is that some men who grow up to abuse women also abuse animals, even as a young children. There is just a lack of respect for life in some of these people and such a strong need to control life. In some cases, no life is safe around these men, even other men are at risk of violence at the hands of these men (male on male violence is a huge problem!).
When we use poor mental health and different emotional states as a scapegoat for systemic problems such as domestic violence, racism, homophobia etc. we risk never being able to stop these problems. It is rarely about the person’s mental state and more about what we are all taught from a young age. We all need to take responsibility for our actions and thoughts. If we live in a world where women are not seen as equal to men then that is what everyone will believe unless we fight back against this idiotic idea. If anything causes emotional trauma it is the oppression and not the other way around.