As football fever gets set to sweep across the nation with the European championships - a domestic abuse charity is urging victims not to suffer in silence.
Julie Robinson, co-ordinator at Options says during the football season the number of women seeking help rises.
Domestic abuse is domestic abuse no matter what triggers it and you don’t need to put up with itJulie Robinson
And with the addition, this year, of the Euros kicking off in France within days, the charity says it is bracing itself for an influx of calls.
Miss Robinson, Options co-ordinator, said: “For many victims the football season and big football tournaments are an absolute dread. For the vast majority of football fans, matches can be an enjoyable event, however, research has shown many perpetrators use this as an excuse to be more aggressive and violent.
“Domestic abuse is domestic abuse regardless of what triggers it and you don’t need to put up with it. Seek help before it’s too late.”
The charity say during the big football tournaments the number of referrals rise with many women suffering at the hands of partners due to a team’s defeat.
One domestic abuse victim, who did not want to be identified, had been friends with her partner since they were 11 years old. They started a relationship at the age of 21.
They started life together happy with no major warning signs. However, following the birth of their first son, the violence and abuse become worse - especially around the football season.
She said: “When the football season started he would always get agitated, especially if his team lost. Derby days, the Euros and the World Cup were the worst as he would start drinking in the early hours and when he’d come home he’d be abusive and violent. His mood was always linked to how well his team, or England did or didn’t do.”
Susan eventually left when both of her children witnessed an assault.
She added: “If it wasn’t for Options and the Freedom Programme I would have went back, but the programme showed me my children and I are worth more than that and we deserved a better life.”
Options has devised a safety plan to help women at risk of domestic abuse.
They are advising women to:
• Keep important telephone numbers ready at all times;
• Teach children to dial 999 and what they will be asked by the operator – their name, address and telephone number;
• Rehearse an escape route, so they and their children can leave safely and quickly;
• Pack an overnight bag and keep it in a safe place – with a friend or relative;
• Try to avoid fleeing to people who are mutual friends with their abusive partner;
• Keep a small amount of money with them at all times;
• Know where the nearest phone is and keep a mobile on them and charged at all times.
For help and advice, contact Options on 456 7777, South Tyneside Women’s Aid on 454 8257, the 24-hour non-emergency police line 101 or the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.