The Dog and the Rabbit: Helping children understand domestic abuse
One of our readers put this story in a comment she left on our post, Why aren’t you and Daddy married anymore? She wrote this story for her grandkids when their mom left her abuser. We felt that it’s a wonderful way to help children understand the complex circumstances surrounding domestic abuse, so we put it in its own post to make sure everyone sees it. Thank you, dear reader, for sharing this with us!
Once upon a time there was a home that had a dog and some other pets: a rabbit, some cats, and some hamsters. It seemed like the dog got along fairly well with most of the animals and with the people, although he did get into bad moods and growled at them for no good reason. On his good days, he’d wag his tail and play with the cats and hamsters and they ran around and had fun together. However, the dog had a thing about the rabbit. He thought rabbits were wimps and he thought it was funny to growl at the rabbit and chase him and see him scared.
The rabbit quickly figured out that it had better keep its distance from the dog and most of the time it would hide under the bed or behind the furniture when the dog was around. If the other animals or his owners were around, the dog would wag his tail and pretend to be friendly to the rabbit. But as soon as no one was looking, he’d get fierce and growl and chase the rabbit again, sometimes nipping it in the leg. If someone else came into the room, he would quickly stop chasing the rabbit, and instead start wagging his tail and give his innocent doggy look: “Who me? Chase rabbits? Do I look like a dog that would chase a rabbit?” Because the dog was so sneaky about chasing the rabbit when no one was looking, the other pets, and even the pet owners, didn’t realize that it was a big problem. They only wondered why the rabbit was always shaking and scared and spent so much time hiding.
The rabbit was so traumatized that it gradually became a quivering mass of nerves and had no appetite and couldn’t even really sleep for fear the dog would come sneaking up on it. So do you think that rabbit might have started thinking about getting away? Would it have been hoping someone would accidently leave the door open so it could escape? You’re right. One day the rabbit saw its chance and shot out the door like a streak of lightning. The cats and the hamsters and the pet owners were all confused… where did that rabbit go and why on earth did it leave their happy family of pets? They did look at the dog, and wondered if maybe he had something to do with it, but he was giving his innocent doggy face and wagging his tail and shaking his head about the silly rabbit who ran away.
So what do you think? Should the rabbit go back or should it find a new safe place to live?