P. 649

re ecting a general failure to  nd a healthy social role and identity. Unsurprisingly this is often in a wider context
of antisocial behavior in the family[5] and community. However it should be noted that individuals with a better grasp of social norms are probably not well represented in the research as they are more likely to conceal and deny involvement in animal abuse. For this reason one of the more effective humane education programs, Anicare, focusses on getting perpetrators to admit responsibility for their actions.
Intervening Motivations
Table 1 shows some common schemes for categorizing the diverse types of speci c motivations that might
be the immediate cause of abusive behavior towards animals. In addition, the simpler three-part summary provided by Robert Agnew in the 1990s is also just
as relevant today “Animal abuse is said to result from ignorance about the abusive consequences of our behavior for animals, the belief that abuse is justi ed, and the perception that abuse is personally bene cial.”[6]
In recent years, progress has been made in the study of a range of antisocial behaviors by appreciating that they include a range of severity and a spectrum of motivations (e.g. juvenile  re setting, abusive partners, assaults by psychiatric patients, and general aggression). While
there are some commonalities in cause and outcomes, reversing violent or antisocial tendencies often requires determining and engaging with the particular form they are taking regarding the person’s internal feelings and rationales.
For example a person with an innate dif culty feel immediate emotional empathy may not be able to acquire this reaction, but can be taught cognitive empathy, a conscientious care ethic, or even a self- interest based reason for kind conduct that includes private conduct (e.g. the Goldiamond paradox). The person may then develop and commit to personal process rules that achieve similar outcomes to innate empathetic responses.
Understanding intervening motivations avoids using messages or treatments that may cause potentially dangerous internal or interpersonal con ict. For example, a person acting cruelly largely due to the in uence of
a powerful subculture membership or authority  gure needs some method to contextualize or modify their attachment to that model. Providing competing models without this guidance can produce rejection of the humane message or place the client in a stressful or even dangerous position.
Cruelty Exposure as a Stressor for Adults
People who are attracted to work that assists animals are exposed to some unique stressors that may impair their wellness. It is well documented that veterinarians,
An Urban Experience
shelter workers, and other animal professions experience higher than average levels of stress which can result in self-harming behaviors and burnout. Shelter workers who perform euthanasia often experience long-term unresolved stress, exacerbated by a lack of support from family and their workplace management. Veterinarians have been shown to be at higher risk of substance abuse and suicide, partly due to the animal suffering
they are exposed to on the job. These professions while potentially a source of great meaning and personal satisfaction may also expose individuals to repeated adverse experiences.
It is important that those of us most directly or even indirectly involved in animal rescue and animal welfare recognize that exposure to animal cruelty is an event in our lives that should be presumed harmful regardless of our own role in relation to that event. Therefore
we should also participate in programs that prevent ameliorate this harm and teach us how to prevent it from negatively affecting how we interact with people and animals. Modeling this approach to wellness helps remove the stigma from acknowledging vulnerability and the links between being stress and behaving inappropriately. Violent animal abuse is an extreme outcome but it exists in a continuum of harmful behavior such as rough animal handling, discussing clients in judgmental terms, valorizing working to exhaustion, or drinking to cope. Addressing these general expressions of strain assists in establishing a bright line between acceptable behavior and abusive behavior without stigmatizing help-seeking.

   647   648   649   650   651