Webinar presenter Andrew Campbell answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Disaster Without, Disaster Within: Natural Disasters and Family Violence. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: You have a book coming soon? When is it due? What’s the title? What should we be looking for?
Andrew Campbell: So, the book is about, the pet piece of family violence, so it focuses largely on that. As I said, I just alluded to it a little bit there about my own emotional harm, my dog was critical in saving my life, even from throughout youth and early adulthood. That dog was my, who I went to. I feel like no one else understood. I couldn’t reach anyone else, but that dog is everything to me. So, the book focuses on the pet piece. The chapters involve things such as the importance of protecting child-pet bonds and homes impacted by family violence. I’ll talk about pets, natural disasters, as we talked about today. I talked about pets, and emotional support, and then better protecting pets when you’re also trying to protect people in homes impacted by family violence. The book should be out, around September 21st is kind of the expected date, will include about eight different chapters. And my hope is kind of be a go-to resource on the pet piece of family violence.
Audience Question: Do we have a title yet to be watching for? Or is that still to be determined?
Andrew Campbell: So, that’s still being determined with the publisher. But it will include the concept that pets are family and part of the family, and important in this piece so. That’s the main message behind the book.
Host: No problem. No problem. Well, folks, and certainly mark that date, start hunting Amazon for Andrew Campbell, and hopefully, we’ll see it around that time.
Audience Question: How has FEMA addressed this issue? Are they providing any additional funds to help address mental health issues in these affected areas? Or is this kind of a gap in the system?
Andrew Campbell: So, I can’t speak as an expert on FEMA, and I wouldn’t even pretend to. And that’s one of the things I try to prepare and knows everything as much as I can for these talks, but I don’t ever want to say anything that’s inaccurate. I focused largely on the presentation of what they do to protect pets. I know there are other mental health services in place, but my general impression is just largely not even just targeting that agency, but others in general, that, again, these family violence issues still fall through the cracks too often. I think they’re rarely focused on even non-disaster periods. As I said, it’s usually a safe bet, and it’s not okay. That is because it always happens, doesn’t mean it’s okay, but we almost always see disparities further, and so whatever we’re not doing enough, and I don’t think we’re doing anywhere near enough to address mental health. I can speak locally in my own community, and there was concern that there was actually going to be a cut in funding for mental health services over the last few months, which again, I live here in Indianapolis, Indiana, just eye-opening to think about a time when they’re probably needed more than they’ve been, at least in my life that you would actually cut mental health. Unfortunately, this speaks to the lack of attention many of these key issues often get. And so, rather than I wouldn’t focus on a single agency, but rather, I think it’s safe to say that what is being done is not enough. As we continue to see these alarming rates occur, just tells you that whatever we are doing, it is not being effective and in stalling it, or stopping.
Audience Question: You talked about the domestic violence that increases during and post-disaster, but what about pet abuse? Do you have numbers that show that as well?
Andrew Campbell: So again, I talk about the opportunity to abuse theory. And the opportunity is greatest in my opinion for pets. We see kids and pets often sharing that risk as the most vulnerable beings in the home. And so, I, at least now we don’t even have a good estimate. I would expect it to be extremely high and extremely concerning. As again, as I say, anytime stress increases, an opportunity to detect decreases, while vulnerability increases, there’s no reasonable abuse isn’t very high. So, my concern is those numbers would be alarming. In terms of the agencies that I work directly with, some of them are seeing a decline in reports during that period. But again, I think it’s important to note what that decline is. I would expect to see fewer pets left in hot cars or your pets left at home while people leave. Unfortunately, as many know, when pets are targeted or abused, it may be hard to find that pet, individuals often remove that pet and there’s no way to even find them or report it. So, my gut tells me that those numbers are extremely high, whether or not we’ll ever have numbers to support it, I don’t know. I’m also involved as a reviewer of several major academic journals, and so I have the luxury or the benefit of seeing studies that will come out in the future. And I’ve seen some that kind of collaborate, some of the things I’m talking about in terms of this greater risk of child severity, but I haven’t yet seen it for pets. And my fear is we won’t see that because it’s so difficult to find those pets. These perpetrators often remove and destroy those remains when they commit those acts. So, there’s no reason to believe that it’s not extremely high. And again, very high for children too. So, those two groups, pets, and children, just don’t get those reports. And again, something that’s extremely concerning to me, and why I think we need to re-evaluate how we address and deal with these things, both during a disaster and after.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Disaster Without, Disaster Within: Natural Disasters and Family Violence.