Domestic abuse - the link between the beautiful game and sport
Football is the dominant sport in this country, and there have been studies that show a link between domestic abuse and football due to their shared association with intrinsic forms of sexism and violence. Football involves a mix of emotions and behaviours; even more so as of late when the country was full of hope that England could bring back the most prestigious trophy in football.
Is the beautiful game an excuse for domestic abuse?
Watching and being a part of this can, on occasion, make some men and women behave in a way that makes them feel competitive and more prone to aggression. The rush of adrenaline adds to this, and if drugs and booze are consumed, or money is spent on gambling, then their behaviour can become unpredictable and threatening.
Where there is domestic abuse, alcohol has usually been consumed. Alcohol, more than any other substance, is associated with intimate partner violence, which affects all ethnic, racial and socio economic groups.
Sport can occasionally be used, by men for example, to construct, maintain or re-establish their masculine identities. This can, at times, include a tolerance to pain and an intolerance of showing their more gentle side. The strategies of dominance and control over another are sometimes learnt so to improve their sporting success, but this behaviour and way of thinking can and does periodically spill over into intimate relationships.
Violence against women can arguably be associated with a broader gender inequality, and should be understood in its historical context, whereby societies have given greater status, wealth, influence, control and power to men. That's not to say however that all cases of domestic abuse are committed by men against women; the opposite can often be true as well.
So what can you do if you recognise domestic abuse?
- It may be difficult for you to openly acknowledge the problem; vocalising it may put you and the survivor in danger. Do not directly talk to the perpetrator.
- The most helpful thing is to believe the victim; people rarely lie, exaggerate or make up stories around this.
- Listen and talk to them; you may be the only person to have done this in a long time. Try not to judge them for staying, or blame them as if it’s their fault, or criticise them because they defends their partner's behaviour. They will be very good at lying to themselves, ignoring the truth and thinking this is all their fault.
- Don’t ask for details.
- Let the individual create their own boundaries of what they think is safe and what is not.
- Offer your address and phone number to leave messages and information, and tell them you will look after an emergency bag if they want this.
- Offer to go with them to their GP, hospital, solicitors or police to report a crime or injuries.
- Tell them that's they're not alone, there are many women and men like her in the same situation.
- Acknowledge that the individual is in a very difficult, potentially dangerous and frightening situation.
- Don’t advise them to leave or to change their behaviour; if they leave, it must be their decision only.
- If possible, talk about how the victim can keep themselves and their children safe.
- Plan safe strategies for leaving the abusive relationship.
- Again if possible, agree a code, a word or a signal for when they are in danger and can’t access help.
- Find out about local services, try and get a spare set of keys and ask if it’s ok for you to keep important documents such as passports for the victim.
If you have any suspicions or concerns then call 999.
24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline – call 0808 2000 247 for free confidential advice.
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