Opinion

Domestic abuse soars by 38% when England lose. This Euros, we need change

Women's Aid is calling for more awareness around how domestic abuse increases when England play during major football tournaments such as the Euros

'no more years of hurt' on a scarf - women's aid domestic abuse at the euros campaign imagery

Women's Aid has launched its 'No More Years of Hurt' campaign highlighting the spike in domestic abuse during big football games. Image: Women's Aid

For many of us the Euros this year mean will summer evenings watching games on the big screen with our friends, holding on to hope and enjoying the excitement of the tournament. However, for those living in fear of domestic abuse at home, the reality of a major football tournament is that it is a time where existing abuse can get worse.

While we know that football does not cause domestic abuse, major championships can make existing abuse more frequent or severe. A study by Lancaster University showed reports of domestic abuse increased by 38% when England lost a match and 26% when they won or drew.

We need more research to better understand the link between domestic abuse and football, but generally, it is thought that the higher consumption of alcohol during this time, as well as the heightened emotions and potentially the social dynamics of some large groups of men in groups supporting the men’s game and acceptance of so called “laddish behaviour” (which can include sexism), can contribute to the rise in cases.

While these might be catalysts, it’s also important to acknowledge that many people watch football, drink alcohol and spend time with big groups of their friends and would never be abusive – the only person responsible for abuse in a relationship is the abuser.

Domestic abuse happens everyday across our society – one in four women will be affected by it at some point in their lives, and at least one woman a week is killed by a current or former partner. Despite how prevalent it is, domestic abuse is thought of as a ‘hidden’ crime, as it predominantly happens inside the home.

This year, to coincide with the Euros, and with the brilliant people at House 337, we have launched our ‘No More Years of Hurt’ campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse during this crucial time, so that survivors know where they can turn to for help and so that the public knows how they can support charities like Women’s Aid.

‘No More Years of Hurt’ builds on the success of our ‘He’s Coming Home’ campaign during the 2022 World Cup. The campaign was hugely impactful, cutting through the noise and reaching so many people to start important conversations, creating awareness of domestic abuse as an issue.

The campaign takes a twist on football slogans like this one: “He’s coming home”. Image: Women’s Aid

This year, coming on the cusp of a general election, with terrifying levels of violence against women and funding for women’s services desperately needed, the campaign aims to mobilise the public and move this issue further up the agenda to make domestic abuse intolerable in our society. 

Our campaign features classic football scarves imprinted with well-known football chants that have been subverted to highlight the domestic abuse emergency, such as: “No More Years of Hurt,” “He’s Coming Home,” and “England Till I Die.”

In addition to the slogans, the scarves are also interwoven phrases that show controlling behaviour. The words are not immediately noticeable but become clearer and more recognisable the longer you look, reflecting how domestic abuse in our society is hiding in plain sight.  

Football championships are without a doubt an exciting time, that should be enjoyable for everyone. But as we come together in the hope that football is coming home this year, we must also come together to raise awareness of domestic abuse and support the charities helping survivors, it really can make the world of difference.

Teresa Parker is head of media at Women’s Aid.

If you or a friend need support, go to www.womensaid.org.uk for links both to direct support and to be connected to a network of local services around the country. If you’d like to donate to the campaign and help Women’s Aid provide lifesaving services, please visit our Women’s Aid Euro Fundraiser 2024. Go Fund Me will generously be matching the first £5,000 donated, so your donation could go even further.

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