Animal abuse and dating violence

Power & Control Wheel

Over the weekend, Gainesville had yet another incident of dating violence make the news. Early Sunday, Tamarcus Lamont Harper was arrested on several changes including animal cruelty causing death, kidnapping, obstructing justice, resisting arrest, and three counts of battery. The incident began after Harper and his on-again/off-again girlfriend got into an argument. The violence escalated after she asked him to leave resulting in his violence towards her, her roommates and her kitten. While this may seem like an isolated incident, it surely isn’t the first time violence or abuse has occurred in the relationship. We know that abusive relationships are the result of a pattern of unhealthy and controlling behaviors. These behaviors are the result of one person’s need to have power and control over their dating partner. In this particular case, we have several tactics to exert control being used. The largest being intimidation and threats.

This case definitely highlights the variety of power and control tactics abusers can/do use. The typical things we think about are the physical forms of violence, such as punching, kicking, hitting, biting, swinging around the room by your ankles, etc. But there are also many instances of intimidation and threats going on in this case. Harper threatened both the ex-girlfriend and her roommates with additional violence if the left the apartment or called the police. He intimidated them by killing the kitten. The message he was sending, whether he realizes it or not, was “Look at my strength. Look at what I can do to this tiny creature. Imagine what I could do to you.” Abuse to animals is one way perpetrators make their victims afraid. Animal abuse can often be a warning sign of unhealthy behaviors. Such as a pet mysteriously ‘dies’ or ‘disappears’. If there are children in the family, the loss of a pet can be particularly traumatizing and challenging. Especially if it is done in front of them.

While Harper may not realize how text book his targeting the kitten is, those of us well versed in intimate partner violence see it as yet another intimidation tactic.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. scrapebox
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 16:40:51

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