March 7, 2021

Dogs, therapeutic allies of victims of sexist violence



A research project of the Andalusian Interuniversity Institute of Criminology of the University of Cádiz tries to demonstrate the therapeutic effects that the company of a dog has on women victims of sexist violence.

"The dog invites me to go out, something that a couple of weeks ago did not even occur to me," he says, in an interview with Efe, N. one of the women participating in this study and who prefers to remain anonymous.

He has only been with the animal for 15 days and he already feels that, thanks to him, he has begun to break the isolation that fear led him to, having first gone through a relationship in which he suffered the sexist violence and having left her later.

The coexistence with a dog, and the responsibility of taking care of him, have led him to change routines and especially has given him reasons to go out, something that makes him feel "a little more lively", he says.

"At the beginning I was afraid to handle such a large dog but little by little I am overcoming it and I am already going through places that I thought I would not be able to catch anymore," confesses this woman, who is immersed in the middle of the judicial process.

Although he is still in the initial phase of the project and "it is soon" to draw conclusions, in these two weeks he already feels that he has taken steps towards his emotional recovery.

N. is one of the three women victims of sexist violence who, so far, have begun to live with a dog to participate in the study undertaken by the University of Cádiz to analyze the benefits it produces in victims of gender violence The company of these animals and how this activity improves their self-esteem and social life.

For a year, the effectiveness of dogs of breeds related to grazing and accompaniment will be evaluated through three psychological sessions for one year.

Contrary to what happens with other initiatives, where dogs act as elements of defense for victims, in this investigation the functions of these animals are only therapeutic.

"Using these animals as safety tools for victims is a mistake. Women who are in this situation cannot use dogs as a weapon," explains Luis Ramón Ruiz, director of the Andalusian Interuniversity Institute of Criminology at UCA, to EFE. and responsible for this project, which takes place in Jerez de la Frontera.

In fact, safety dogs are trained to behave in a certain way and "can generate a risk within the victim's family or with the people with whom these women have to relate in their day-to-day life, as already happened in some places, "he adds.

That is why this project seeks not to perceive the dog as an element of defense. They are not dogs of prey but grazing, so the training of the animal and its relationship with the woman is "completely different," says the project director.

The Association of Professional Canine Trainers of Andalusia is the one that provides dogs for free and also deals with the maintenance and adaptation of these animals with their new owners.

Together with the women who have assigned dogs, six other victims of this sexist violence make up the "control group", which serves to establish the differences that occur between women with and without dogs, and thus determine the benefits of the company animal.

The study is expected to be completed in May 2020. "If the results are convincing," says Luis Ramón Ruiz, "it will be proposed to public administrations that include the adoption of these animals as another tool in their policies against gender violence."

One of the demands that arose as a result of this research project is that these animals can be considered as assistance to victims of sexist violence as guide dogs, since now they cannot access the same places as the dogs that accompany people with disabilities

María José Romero

. (tagsToTranslate) allies (t) therapeutic (t) victims (t) violence (t) sexist



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