Project title Animal abuse as domestic violence: why women stay
Project duration 4 weeks during the winter semester break, 2 days per week

The abuse of, or threat to abuse, pets, assistance animals and even farm animals is now recognised a part of the coercing and controlling behaviour that is associated with domestic and family violence. Interviews undertaken as part of Professor Heather Douglas’ future fellowship identify animal abuse and the threats made to animals as a key reason why many delay leaving a violent relationship. How the law can best respond to this is a complex question. Drawing on these interviews the Winter Scholar will undertake a literature review of the issues raised (including recent government reports on domestic and family violence) and produce a brief report.    

Expected outcomes and deliverables

The Winter Scholar will have an opportunity to learn more about domestic and family violence, gain skills in data analysis and reporting and learn about the publishing process. There is potential for the research to be expanded into an honours project (eg LAWS4114) or an RHD project (ie on animal abuse as a form of domestic and family violence, its legal recognition and the role of the law in responding to it).  

Suitable for

This project is available to undergraduate law students who have completed at least two years of their law degree. Candidates should have an interest in how the law responds to domestic and family violence and have an interest in research. Students who are also enrolled in criminology, sociology, social work or psychology may find this project of particular interest.

Primary supervisor

Professor Heather Douglas

Further information

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Professor Heather Douglas ( in advance of applying if they are interested in the project.