It’s Coming home.
These three words mean another huge football event is around the corner. They signify excitement and adrenaline, but for many victims of domestic violence, they signify weeks of aggression and abuse.
On the 25th of November, the day England played the USA in their second World Cup game, Women’s Aid released a harrowing new campaign, ‘He’s Coming Home.’
The campaign’s aim is to highlight the increase in domestic violence and abuse experienced by women during major sporting events.
Research by the University of Leicester revealed that domestic violence incidents in the home increase by 38% when England lose a football game, and by 26% when they win, making abuse an inescapable consequence of the tournament for many women.
Whilst Women’s Aid have acknowledged that football itself does not cause domestic abuse, they hope to spread awareness about the game’s ability to incite it. On Instagram, the charity wrote, “a big game can be the catalyst for increasing or more severe abuse.” Echoing this, chief executive of Women’s Aid, Farah Nazeer, stated, “While domestic abuse is not caused by football, we know existing abuse can become more severe or frequent during big tournaments.”
The charity identified the increase in alcohol consumption during football matches, and high levels of emotion as contributors to the increased abuse. Further, for the first time ever, the tournament took place in winter. This likely resulted in many fans staying home to watch the game, a choice putting victims at an increased risk of harm.
A culture of sexism surrounding football was identified in recent research by Women’s Aid, who found that 24% of UK adults believed there were circumstances where derogatory football chants against women were acceptable, especially when used as a joke.
Farah Nazeer has emphasised the danger of these ‘jokes’, explaining how they “enable a culture where women can be demeaned, controlled, harmed and abused.” Domestic abuse cannot be ended without also tackling “sexism and misogyny, and safely [challenging] attitudes and comments where we can.”
Statistics gathered by the Crime Survey of England and Wales found that in the year ending March 2020, 1.6 million people aged 16-74 had been victims of domestic abuse over the course of the past year. His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that in the year preceding March 2015, the police received an average of over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour. HMIC also reported that the Metropolitan Police took 41,158 calls related to domestic incidents in the period of March 25 to June 10th, 2020, a 12% increase from the same period the previous year.
Whilst the campaign’s release date coincided with an England Game, November 25th also marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the beginning of a campaign by UN Women to eliminate violence against women by encouraging discussion and global action.
Women’s Aid work tirelessly to support women and children in situations of abuse. They campaign to introduce system changes to protect survivors, work within communities to provide hands-on support, and operate multiple communication outlets so that they can reach as many victims of abuse as possible.
The World Cup may be over, but the impact and influence of this campaign is not. Violence against women happens every day. It is up to us, as individuals, friends, family, and fans, to talk about it, to educate ourselves, and to take a stand against it.
For women – The Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
For men – Men’s Advice Line 0808 8010 327