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Issued 14 July 2021
As the recent 2020 European Football Championship reached its conclusion there was a palpable feeling of apprehension, excitement and optimism. Now that the tournament is over, a different range of feelings are being experienced throughout the country. However, for some, feelings of trepidation and nervousness may be caused by something very different - fear of domestic abuse at the hands of their partner. We know from previous research that there is a stark increase of reported intimate partner violence during major football tournaments, and many organisations have created striking campaigns to raise awareness of this. For example, during the 2014 World Cup the National Centre for Domestic Violence used the arresting headline of; ‘If England gets beaten, so will she’ overlaid on the image of a woman’s bloodied face.
The Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency (read more here here, 2014) concluded that reported cases of intimate partner violence increased by 38% when England lost and by 26% when they won or drew during that tournament.
More recently, The Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that an estimated 2.3 million adults ages 16-74 years experienced domestic abuse (1.6 million women and 757,000 men). Further crime statistics also demonstrate a steady increase in domestic abuse in recent years, and more notably during the last 18 months. During the pandemic, the rate of domestic violence that resulted in murder doubled from an average of 2.5 women per week to five women per week.
A complex issue speculation has been made regarding the impact of excessive alcohol consumption increasing the likelihood of domestic abuse. Although alcohol may not be the direct or sole cause of these incidents, it would appear to be a commonly associated perpetuating factor and the National Office for Statistics states that 39% of domestic abuse perpetrators were intoxicated or under the influence at the time of abuse occurring. (Read more here)
Given the inextricable link between domestic abuse and depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance misuse (further info available here) it is likely that many therapists have and will continue to work with those affected by this issue. The impact on a survivor’s mental health is profound, not to mention the ripple effects of the wider family and children’s wellbeing, and cost to the economy and healthcare. Domestic violence cost the UK over £15billion in 2019 alone (read more here). However, the validity of the statistics above relies hugely on the accurate reporting of abuse and the barriers to accessing support due to the shame and stigma around this topic. Mankind (a charity who work with male victims of domestic abuse) share that around every one in 6-7 men are a victim of domestic abuse but sadly, only 4.4% access local support services. Furthermore, more male victims (11%) than women (7%) are likely to consider ending their life due to intimate partner abuse (read more here). This issue is also further compounded by overall lower referral rates for men to access psychological support in addition to seeking out help for issues relating to domestic abuse.
The BABCP would like to use this opportunity to make a stand against intimate partner abuse of any kind and fully recognise this is not an issue which is exclusive to any particular gender or sexual orientation. We make no assumptions about who can be a victim, or indeed a perpetrator, of domestic abuse and urge all therapists to approach this issue with curiosity and courage in the coming days, weeks and months. Do this knowing that you may be the first person your client has felt able to talk to about this, or that you may be the first to ask - but your actions, reactions and words may be life-saving. As an organisation the BABCP are fully committed to improving the lives of all affected by domestic violence and by writing this statement we hope to create awareness for all members of the profound and obvious impact domestic abuse can have on an individual’s mental health. The BABCP’s Women’s and Gender Minorities Equality Special Interest Group have been working hard to explore the topic of violence against women and girls, particularly in light of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry in 2020, and Sarah Everard’s deaths in 2021, and will continue to ensure there is a platform for this topic and a voice to advocate and create awareness for those who are most at risk.
In the event of domestic abuse or violence being disclosed we ask therapists and practitioners to seek supervision and ensure any local safeguarding policies and procedures are adhered to. Encourage your clients to access local support available and if they are concerned about a partners behaviours guide them to work with their local police force to use ‘Claire’s Law’ so they are able to access relevant information about a partners previous offences which could be life-saving. You may also want to signpost your client to specialist services which are linked below:
Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline
0808 2000 247
Online live chat
Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline
0808 802 1414
Online live chat
Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline
0800 027 1234
Online live chat
Live Fear Free
0808 80 10 800
Online live chat
The Men’s Advice Line run by Respect is a confidential helpline specifically for male victims.
0808 801 0327
Find out more about the WOMGENE Special Interest Group.
BABCP WOMGENE Special Interest Group
Dr Andrew Beck, BABCP President