ANNA Ludvik's reason for starting Lucy's Project is a personal one.
Not long before the birth of her first child, Lucy, Ms Ludvik was told her daughter had died suddenly in her womb.
Ms Ludvik said Lucy's Project, which was born on the same day as stillborn Lucy, gave her daughter's life meaning and turned her name into something that effected positive change.
The project aims to raise awareness and funds for further research into the use of animals in domestic violence and develop early intervention programs.
Ms Ludvik said pets are often used in domestic violence by the perpetrator as a "means of demonstrating the kind of abuse that is awaiting the victim" if the victim doesn't do what they say.
Domestic violence and animals:
- 53% of women who experienced domestic violence reported the deliberate injury or killing of their companion animal (Gullone, 1994).
- 19% of women who experienced domestic violence reported that their children had abused a pet.
- 88% of families receiving services for child abuse had also abused their pets (Davidson, 1988).
- 96% of animal abusers had also abused children (Humane Society, 2002).
- Children exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to engage in acts of animal abuse than their peers (Baldry 2005 and Currie 2006).
They are also used as a way to keep the victim of domestic abuse at home.
"Often a victim is afraid to leave the house because they're afraid of what will happen to the animals," Ms Ludvik said.
"Sometimes for a woman that has been victimised for a long time the only source of comfort is the pet, and so the perpetrator knows how completely central to that woman's wellbeing the animal is.
"So a lot of women won't leave the house until they've managed to secure a safe shelter for their pets."
The abusive behaviour can also be passed on to children, perpetuating the cycle of abuse.
"When the children are witnessing that, it can actually cause psychological harm to the child and can result in behavioural issues to the child and those children themselves can go on and act out the abuse that they've seen in the house towards animals or towards others," Ms Ludvik said.
So far, the organisation has raised more than $1000 for the Lismore-based Animal Rights and Rescue Group through the Lucy's First Birthday Appeal.