Women's Aid highlights rise in domestic abuse during major sporting events

While most of us are hoping football is coming home, there are many women fearing that their partners will do the same.

Today, as England are set to play their second World Cup match, Women’s Aid launches a chilling new campaign, highlighting the increased frequency and severity of existing domestic abuse during major football tournaments.

Taking place in winter for the first time, the cold weather and dark evenings mean that more fans than usual will stay home to watch the World Cup.

For many women, this is a time of fear, where existing domestic violence incidents have been known to rise by as much as 38%.

The same study found that, even when the England national team played and won or drew, domestic violence incidents still increased by 26% compared with days there was no football match.

Therefore Women’s Aid has partnered with artist Corbin Shaw to raise awareness for the cause, by creating a series of St George’s Cross flags, which feature alternative footballing slogans such as ‘He’s Coming Home’.

Backed by Women’s Aid patrons – including Spice Girl Melanie B and Dame Julie Walters – the launch coincides with International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The campaign sets out to reassure women that they’re not alone, with increased awareness ultimately helping the charity to save lives.

There’s also a carry-over effect, with domestic violence still at an 11% increase the day following an England match.

It’s clear that while football doesn’t cause abuse, it can trigger an increase in existing abuse.

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Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: ‘There is a role to play for everyone in helping to end domestic abuse, and raising awareness of the support available during major tournaments like the upcoming World Cup can help many women living with abusive partners.

‘While domestic abuse is not caused by football, we know existing abuse can become more severe or frequent during big tournaments.

‘We ask everyone to help share this important campaign at a time when many women need to know how to get support.’

Sixteen locations across the country will display the flag visuals for the next few weeks before the flags themselves are auctioned off, to raise further charity funds.

A police officer quoted in the domestic violence report said: ‘The World Cup appears a reason for many to party, however delight and expectation can turn into despair and conflict with the kick of a ball.

‘Although it is difficult to say the tournament is a causal factor, the prestigious tournament does concentrate the risk factors into a short and volatile period, thereby intensifying the concepts of masculinity, rivalry and aggression.’

If you are experiencing domestic abuse of any kind Women’s Aid can offer help and support.

For more information visit womensaid.org.uk

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