Survivor Story: I Was Forced to Give Up My Pets When I Left

Written by: Kenna, Survivor

Many survivors face the heartbreaking decision of leaving an abuser or staying because they fear for their pets’ safety. Increasing numbers of shelters and cooperating agencies are expanding services for victims in crisis that include sheltering pets. Unfortunately, these programs are still not available in many areas, and pets are often left behind or adopted out when a victim of abuse exits an abusive relationship.

After two years of enduring several forms of abuse and more than a year of planning her escape, Kenna was ready to leave. In the process, however, she was forced to adopt out her pets, because she was not able to bring them with her. Kenna shares with us what happened after she left as well a message for others who have survived domestic violence.

I was in an abusive relationship that lasted for two years, but it felt like a lifetime. In addition to verbal and emotional abuse, I was raped in my sleep and beaten if I spoke out of turn. He held me hostage financially and would not let me get my ID renewed because he did not want me to be able to get a job and leave him.

I had to pretend to be asleep so he would not scream at me. He also knew that I get anxiety attacks and used it against me. When he was driving, he would do deliberately do things to trigger me and laughed at how it affected me.

It took a year and a half of secretly planning my exit while he was at work. After that year and a half, I was finally at a point where I could leave and had a plan in place to fly to the Midwest. In order to do that, I was forced to abandon my animals in the process. It broke my heart. Honestly, I would have rather lost a family member. Unfortunately, it had to be done, so I adopted them out and flew out of state.

After being there for a few months, things with my roommate began to change. They started to become verbally abusive, and I refused to go through that again. That time, it took me four months of planning before I was able to leave. I moved back down South to be with my family and friends.

Leaving an abusive relationship is not easy. It is quiet, painful, and scary. However, we can all do it. We deserve all the love in the world. Just because someone took us for granted, it does not mean that we are less of a person. Never forget that you do not have to forgive your abuser in order to heal; you just have to forgive yourself.

**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and have pets to protect, there is help. You can visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline Pets & DV page or the Animal Welfare Institute’s Safe Haven page to search for an organization in your area.

**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.


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