Donations are continuing to pour in to help fitout New Zealand's first shelter for animals affected by domestic violence.

It's been a week since the Herald helped launch a campaign for a Pet Refuge which will house animals affected by domestic violence while their owners leave abusers and find new and safe accommodation.

Once they are free from violence, the hope is they will be able to be reunited with their pets.

One woman who suffered abuse for a long time told the Herald her love for her pets meant she could not get away from a violent partner as he would torture them if she tried.

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"I was in a horrific violent relationship and you can't just get up and leave," she said.

"And if you do then the consequences are the worst.

"My animals suffered as well."

She said when she tried to leave, her ex-partner would kidnap her animals and torture them to force her to return to him.

"[I was] raped and beaten until I could escape - but to see my animals again unharmed I had to go back.

"I eventually found the courage to stand up to him in court after he kidnapped me and tortured me and my dog for hours.

"I was unconscious for a while but managed to run out of his vehicle where neighbours contacted police."

Her abuser was arrested, charged, convicted and jailed.

"My own experience from being abused is finally over and I'm lucky I'm alive from my ordeal," she said.

She now dedicates her own time to caring for abused animals and hopes people will back the shelter.

Julie Chapman, founder of Pet Refuge, at home with two of her eight rescue cats. Photo / Michael Craig
Julie Chapman, founder of Pet Refuge, at home with two of her eight rescue cats. Photo / Michael Craig

The Pet Refuge campaign launch coincided with the release of Women's Refuge research on domestic violence and the intersection with animal abuse.

New Zealand has the worst reported rate of domestic violence in the developed world and the survey-based research found animals are routinely beaten, tortured, threatened and killed by abusers in a bid to exert dominance and power, to demonstrate force, to manipulate, to induce compliance.

The survey of almost 1000 domestic violence victims who had experienced a partner abusing or threatening a pet showed 53 per cent of them delayed leaving the relationship because they feared what would happen to animals left behind.

As well, 41 per cent said they or their children had been made to watch their pet being harmed by their partner.

The land for Pet Refuge was purchased by KidsCan founder Julie Chapman and the Lindsay Foundation are assisting with funds for the building.

But $250,000 is needed to fit the shelter out with beds, enclosures, toys, play areas and a medical facility.

More than $150,000 has been donated in the first week, and today PetStock are matching every dollar given - up to $25,000.

To donate to the shelter build visit: http://pldg.me/petrefuge

If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Pet Refuge petrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz

PET REFUGE: THE SERIES

MONDAY May 20

TUESDAY May 21

WEDNESDAY May 22