Project

Rescuing Me, Rescuing You: Companion Animals and Domestic Violence

Goal: Rescuing Me, Rescuing You: Companion Animals and Domestic Violence

Nik Taylor and I have just been granted a book contract with Palgrave, London to write this book.

Overview
Rescuing me, rescuing you speaks to the mutual, loving connections that can be formed across species, and in households where there is domestic violence. It also speaks to the potentially soothing, healing and recovery oriented aspects of human-companion animal relationships before, during and after the violence. Viewing domestic violence through the imaginary eyes of companion animals offers the opportunity to understand this widespread and potentially fatal social problem in new and engaging ways. While we do not suggest that we can truly speak for or adequately represent the interests of all companion animals in violent domestic situations, we can place them and their interests under the spotlight of human inquiry. This is our intention: to centre the rights and interests of companion animals at risk of, experiencing and/or trying to recover from domestic violence. Judging by the interest in social media and scholarly literature on human-animal relations, we think we are not alone in this interest.

The appeal of animal related literature can be seen in the exponential growth of the interdisciplinary field of human-animal studies. Within this field there is a consistent focus on human and animal directed violence research. Research in this area has consistently shown the links between domestic violence, child abuse and companion animal abuse. What has been left under-investigated, reported and theorised are the positive relationships many women and children, in violent situations, share with their companion animals. While previous focus has been, quite rightly, on how to help human and animal survivors of domestic violence, what has not been carefully examined are the deep, caring relationships that can exist between human and animals, particularly those trying to survive domestic violence.

It is this niche that the current book fills by weaving stories of human and companion animal ‘rescue’ and redemption through a work that closely considers the dynamics of human-animal abuse links within domestic violence. Drawing on a range of data from numerous projects the authors have conducted with women, about their companion animals and about links between domestic violence and animal abuse, this book highlights the deep, personal connections between women and their animals. In these regards our proposed book is innovative and different.

Our book presents an in-depth consideration of the power, politics and philosophy inherent to multi-species relationships and violence. It does so through paying close attention to the stories and images of those affected by such violence. As a result the book will be accessible, compelling, and of interest to a broad market including academics in various disciplines, and those interested in domestic violence service provision, as well as members of the animal-loving general public.

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Project log

Nik Taylor
added 2 research items
In this book we have considered how human-animal companionship in the context of domestic violence might be better understood. Most importantly this has involved advocating for an intersectional feminist understanding of domestic violence inclusive of species concerns. Part of this has involved us arguing for a new iteration of The Link, one that allows for animals to be constituted as victims of domestic violence in their own right. As one part of this involves raising awareness of animal victims of domestic violence, in this final chapter we reflect on historical changes associated with feminists making domestic violence a public, not just a personal, problem. Our interest in the love, empathy, and healing possibilities of human-animal companionship that has been evident throughout this book continues in this chapter through our discussion of the need to value the labour that companion animals perform, especially their emotion work. Recognising their labour necessitates us thinking about what companion animals might get out of their relationships with humans and whether they are ‘voiceless.’ In practical terms, we must also think about the necessary provisions for animals in the context of domestic violence, including suitable housing for human and animal victims. For illustrative and inspirational purposes, we point to several current relevant policy and programme examples. We end with a discussion of six key commitments that need to be shown by humans towards companion animals for the notion of the significant other to become truly meaningful.
Escape, refuge, and recovery are the themes of this chapter. We demonstrate how victims/survivors manage to escape domestic violence in their homes and how they try to recover from the violence and rebuild their lives with the support of others. Because participants stressed the importance of housing, we pay attention to their attempts to find alternative housing that would accommodate themselves and their children, but also their animal companions. We present other challenges to recovering from violence by ‘loved ones’ to show that in contrast to the popular fantasy of escape, post-separation may not be experienced as liberating but as another period of anxiety and hardship. We then consider the roles companion animals can play in supporting human victims/survivors.
Nik Taylor
added an update
We - Heather Fraser and myself - were part of a panel discussing the book and the issues it raises. We were joined by the fab Christine Craik (RMIT andPresident of the Australian Association for Social Workers) and the panel was chaired by Paul Barclay for Radio National's Big Ideas.
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
Heather spoke with the ABC about the issues raised in this project/book. You can read it here. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-21/pet-abuse-and-domestic-violence/10866566
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
Nik Taylor
added an update
The e-version of the book is now available (with Heather Fraser ). So pleased this is out and hoping it adds to the voices calling for the recognition of the abuse of animals in DV situations, and to those arguing we need change and support for animals and humans caught in violence. https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030041243
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
Well the cover is finally in - best part about writing a book maybe? here's a sneak peak.
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
It's always nice getting endorsements coming in for your work. Ours have been coming in for this book and we're so pleased with them. All our endorsers really saw to the heart of the book.
Annie Potts, Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury and co-director of the New Zealand Centre for Human Animal Studies says this:
In Rescuing You, Rescuing Me, Nik Taylor and Heather Fraser take 30+ years of scholarship on ‘the link’ in a refreshing new direction. Based on the real-life experiences and memoirs of women survivors of domestic violence, the authors examine, from a feminist intersectional perspective, both the negative consequences of human-animal interactions in DV contexts as well as the ways in which close positive and supportive relationships between women and their companion animals manifest and are maintained in homes where such violence occurs. Crucially, this book takes an animal-centric position, concentrating on the experiences of and outcomes for actual animals involved in domestic violence. Rescuing You, Rescuing Me is a comprehensive, honest, compassionate and respectful study of a difficult and disturbing subject. Taylor and Fraser have produced an accessible and compelling landmark text which will have broader relevance to anyone wanting to know more about the bonds between people and animals during times of crisis.
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
The book is moving towards production now. We have a tentative publication date of late January 2019. We are eagerly awaiting our first look at the cover and will share when we have it. Books never feel quite real to me until i've seen the cover work!
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
We have a publication date of late March 2019. We are hoping to do some book launches, so watch this space. We will preview the cover when we get it too!
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
Well the deadline is close and looks like we are going to make it! The book will have some images in it, from our Loving You, Loving Me project (https://animalsanddomesticviolence.wordpress.com/) which we hope will let us include the animals a bit more, as well as peak the interest of those more likely to turn away from issues of domestic violence and/or animal abuse. Here's a sneak peak!
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
Under a month until we submit the final manuscript, so here's a sneak peak at the (ever evolving) table of contents:
Chapter 1: Human and Animal Victims of Domestic Violence: Being Rescued
Chapter 2: The Links In-And-Between Human-Animal Abuses: Love, Loyalty and Pain
Chapter 3: What We Choose to Hear: Researching Human-Animal Violence
Chapter 4: Being Subjected to Domestic Violence: Empathic Love and Domination
Chapter 5: Foregrounding Companion Animals’ Experiences of Domestic Violence
Chapter 6: Supporting Victims/Survivors: Escape, Refuge and Recovery
Chapter 7: Significant Others: Human-Animal Relationships in the Future
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
Exciting times watching this book come together. We are nearly at submission, and hope to have it with the publishers ahead of the October 1st schedule. We've been wrestling with making sure the message focusses on animal victims of domestic violence, and it's been an interesting journey. It is starting to feel like we have succeeded now though! Book should be out early 2019. Will keep you posted.
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
The book is coming along nicely, in time (hopefully) for a submission in the first half of this year. We're writing about some important issues and pushing thinking forward on the topic of domestic violence done to humans and other animals. Some of it is gruelling work (I spent last week trawling through forensic accounts of the harms inflicted on animals through domestic violence, for instance) and we talk about the emotional toll in the book too, but it is really gratifying seeing it come together and seeing the women and animals we met come to life in its pages.
The website is also getting regular news updates, and you can see some of the amazing images the Mawson Lakes Photo Club volunteers took for all of us involved in the project - https://animalsanddomesticviolence.wordpress.com/news/
 
Heather Fraser
added an update
Hi all
we are working on the book rescuing you, rescuing me, with palgrave in the uk. Nik Taylor is taking the lead. Some fascinating, heartbreaking but also heart warming stories have emerged from the women we have interviewed. The photographic exhibition is also being shown in the ACT and other places, which is wonderful to see. Thanks again to the Mawson Lakes photographera involved
 
Nik Taylor
added an update
Really pleased to launch the website attached to the Loving You, Loving Me: Companion Animals and Domestic Violence research project. The site can be accessed here: https://animalsanddomesticviolence.wordpress.com/
 
Heather Fraser
added a project goal
Rescuing Me, Rescuing You: Companion Animals and Domestic Violence
Nik Taylor and I have just been granted a book contract with Palgrave, London to write this book.
Overview
Rescuing me, rescuing you speaks to the mutual, loving connections that can be formed across species, and in households where there is domestic violence. It also speaks to the potentially soothing, healing and recovery oriented aspects of human-companion animal relationships before, during and after the violence. Viewing domestic violence through the imaginary eyes of companion animals offers the opportunity to understand this widespread and potentially fatal social problem in new and engaging ways. While we do not suggest that we can truly speak for or adequately represent the interests of all companion animals in violent domestic situations, we can place them and their interests under the spotlight of human inquiry. This is our intention: to centre the rights and interests of companion animals at risk of, experiencing and/or trying to recover from domestic violence. Judging by the interest in social media and scholarly literature on human-animal relations, we think we are not alone in this interest.
The appeal of animal related literature can be seen in the exponential growth of the interdisciplinary field of human-animal studies. Within this field there is a consistent focus on human and animal directed violence research. Research in this area has consistently shown the links between domestic violence, child abuse and companion animal abuse. What has been left under-investigated, reported and theorised are the positive relationships many women and children, in violent situations, share with their companion animals. While previous focus has been, quite rightly, on how to help human and animal survivors of domestic violence, what has not been carefully examined are the deep, caring relationships that can exist between human and animals, particularly those trying to survive domestic violence.
It is this niche that the current book fills by weaving stories of human and companion animal ‘rescue’ and redemption through a work that closely considers the dynamics of human-animal abuse links within domestic violence. Drawing on a range of data from numerous projects the authors have conducted with women, about their companion animals and about links between domestic violence and animal abuse, this book highlights the deep, personal connections between women and their animals. In these regards our proposed book is innovative and different.
Our book presents an in-depth consideration of the power, politics and philosophy inherent to multi-species relationships and violence. It does so through paying close attention to the stories and images of those affected by such violence. As a result the book will be accessible, compelling, and of interest to a broad market including academics in various disciplines, and those interested in domestic violence service provision, as well as members of the animal-loving general public.