Leaving an abusive relationship has great emotional and psychological barriers for survivors including guilt, fear, economic dependence and lack of support.
Major life changes are daunting and staying within an abusive relationship can seem the only option.
However, a factor that often has the biggest draw and tends to be forgotten is not being able to house the family pets.
Bedfordshire Police is assuring those living in abusive relationships that it is possible to escape abuse and take up emergency support knowing their pet is safe.
Officers and staff can help victims rehouse their pets using a fostering facility for up to nine months and all placements are strictly confidential.
Detective Inspector Aaron Kiff, who leads the force’s Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit, said: “Abusers use intimidation against pets as a way to enforce control and domination over family members and stop them from leaving. Yet this animal is often the only source of comfort in the survivor’s darkest hour. Leaving them behind means that fleeing an abusive relationship seems even less imaginable.
“Officers and staff can make referrals for those needing support to start a life free from fear.”
Anyone that is concerned for a friend or relative, or who is experiencing abuse themselves, is urged to come forward. You can report abuse by calling 101, attending a police station or by filling out our online form at http://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/tackling_crime/abuse_reporting_form.aspx
Always dial 999 in an emergency.