Beware domestic violence triggered by events like the European Football Championships 

Research shows links between England matches and increased domestic violence. What can companies do to help people caught up in this cycle?

Beware domestic violence triggered by events like the European Football Championships

As the England football team progresses in Euro 24, the emotional highs and lows of a major sporting tournament can bring to a head the domestic violence endemic in our society.

Studies show the links between England football matches and increased violence in domestic settings. The National Centre for Domestic Violence has reported incidents increasing by 26% if England plays, 38% if England loses and 11% the next day, win or lose. 

Sadly, emotions surrounding sporting events exacerbate the rising violence in our society. 

Police forces recorded 889,441 offences as domestic abuse related in the year to March 2023, a 14% increase over the year ending March 2020. Charity Safe Lives, which works with organisations to end abuse, estimates that around 80,000 people in the UK are at risk of being seriously harmed or murdered by their partner.

A hidden epidemic

What is domestic abuse and how does it affect the victims? How do we identify tell-tale behaviours of someone being abused? Or of being an abuser? What can we as leaders and colleagues do to help people caught up in this?

Domestic and family violence isn’t simply about physical violence or violence between partners, since it may involve wider family groups. It can take many forms, including emotional abuse (causing psychological distress) or financial abuse (using or denying money to cause harm). Abusers may exploit legal or tax rules to abuse someone (system abuse). These behaviours may be part of a wider pattern of violence or abuse. 

Identifying the signs

People experiencing domestic or family violence may stop going out or socialising. They may seem worried that they are being watched, or controlled, or make excuses for someone else’s negative behaviour. They may be scared around a particular person or worry about upsetting them. They may have marks or injuries on their body that cannot be explained. 

The abuser may act in ways that scare the other person or display controlling behaviours. 

What can we do?

Finding that someone is being hurt is always difficult but there are simple things we can do that can make a big difference. While you may be worried about doing the wrong thing, it is OK to say something. Many people in crisis will be glad to have the chance to talk.

Someone being abused often feels their life is out of control. These feelings can be intensified if a well-meaning person tries to force them to do what they think is best. It’s essential that people are supported to make their own choices when they are ready.

Here are some ways that leaders and organisations can help:

Let your people know you will help them if they face domestic abuse; encourage your employees to look out for others. Keep in contact with employees facing abuse and visit them if you do lose contact. Use modern employee wellbeing platforms to give your people access to dedicated safety support and mental health care. If someone is in immediate danger, call 999 or charities with national support like Refuge immediately. 

Take people’s fears seriously: listen without interrupting or judging and never blame the person for what has happened. Someone being hurt may not be ready to get help; don’t try to force them to do what you think is best. Provide practical support, for example, with transport, flexible working, and childcare support, or even help them find a place to stay.

Contact the Government’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline for information, support and advice. Take advice from Safe Lives which is improving organisations’ response to abuse through training Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) to support people and establishing multi-agency risk assessment conferences (Maracs) locally. Employee Assistance Programmes can also provide colleagues with fast access to support and social services.

Small steps can help

Domestic violence is deep rooted in our society. Sporting events like the European Championships bring joy to millions but worsen the misery of others. But we can identify the signs of someone being abused and take small but crucial actions to help address this hidden epidemic. 

James Tate
James Tate

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