Our message is always the same

Over the past 11 days there have been numerous stories in the papers and on TV and radio about the increase in domestic abuse linked to the World Cup, which kicked off in Russia on June 14.

Reference has been made to several studies into the subject, with the most frequently quoted being one by Lancaster University which looked at incidents during World Cup tournaments in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

This study came to the conclusion that “domestic abuse rates increase by 38% when England lose”. This figure featured in a graphic created by domestic abuse charity Pathway Project that you might have seen on Facebook or twitter.

It went viral ahead of England’s game against Tunisia last Monday and may well do the same today, when England play their second match in the tournament, this time against Panama.

“The World Cup is often associated with an increase in incidents of domestic abuse because of factors such as increased alcohol consumption and an increase in tension,” Cleveland Police Specialist Crime Superintendent Anne-Marie Salwey said in a release about their use this year of the “Give Domestic Abuse the Red Card” campaign.

It can be difficult to measure reports of incidents, mainly because there is no legal definition of domestic violence or domestic abuse. There are no actual criminal offences under those names.

Instead, perpetrators are prosecuted under a range of offences which can be linked to domestic abuse, such as threats to kill, controlling or coercive behaviour, assault or rape.

Across Government the definition of domestic violence and abuse is: “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.” It also encompasses, but isn’t limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.

No excuse

Taking all of this into account, police, local government and domestic abuse organisations, including Broxtowe Women’s Project (BWP), have been putting out information making it very clear that the results of a football match are no excuse for domestic abuse and about where help is available.

Police forces have pledged to increase what the Cleveland Police call “an additional level of response to domestic abuse incidents.” This includes the use of a dedicated response car for domestic abuse. Organisations like the Southern Domestic Abuse Service in Hampshire have said they are increasing staffing during World Cup games.

It is also important to remember it is not only England games that could create increases in domestic abuse. In the third match of the tournament today, Poland will take on Colombia (7pm) and the same message about results not being an excuse for domestic abuse goes to the Polish Community.

Whatever is happening in the world, the message from BWP is always the same; domestic abuse and violence is not acceptable, and we are here to provide support and help to any woman in Broxtowe affected by it.