Whilst kindness and generosity are typically words synonymous with the festive period, a seasonal spike in cases of domestic abuse is also not uncommon and cannot be ignored.
Unlike previous years, this problem is likely to be compounded by the arrival of the Qatar World Cup, which gets underway on Sunday 20 November and concludes the week before Christmas on Sunday 18 December.
The tournament, which takes place every four years, is usually held at the beginning of summer once the regular football season has concluded. However, due to the host nation’s soaring temperatures during the summer months, this year’s event has been pushed back to November, coinciding with the festive period and all the celebrations that go with it.
Unfortunately, there is a tendency amongst many to over-indulge in the lead up to Christmas, and whilst there is no excusing domestic abuse of any kind, consuming large amounts of alcohol will undoubtedly impair people’s judgments and exacerbate any existing problems.
Given that domestic abuse rates also increase by around 26% when England win or draw a football match and a staggering 38% when they lose, it is clear that football during the festive period could have very serious consequences for those in abusive relationships.
Dal Heran, Head of the Family Law team at Wright Hassall, commented: “Whilst Christmas should be a time of celebration, research shows that around 15,000 children will be exposed to domestic abuse over the two-week festive period. When you also factor England’s upcoming matches into the equation, the threat of domestic abuse becomes increasingly serious.
“With this in mind, individuals that are concerned about their own safety or the wellbeing of family members should seek professional support, taking steps to separate and file for an injunction or by detailing a safe route out of the home should incidents of abuse occur.
“As part of this arrangement, they should aim to find an alternative place to stay, either with friends or family, that will offer them safety and space whilst they contact the relevant authorities. There are also charities dedicated to supporting victims of domestic abuse, with 24-hour helplines and online live chats making it easy for individuals to find help throughout the festive period.
“Even if matters seem to have temporarily improved in the run-up to Christmas, if there is history of domestic abuse within your relationship, then it is always best to have a plan in place just in case the situation turns during the holidays.
“However, if it has already reached a point where intervention is futile, then it may be time to seek legal support in order to separate permanently from an abusive partner, ensuring the protection of any children that also live with you.”
What does the law say?
It goes without saying that abuse or violence of any kind is unacceptable. However, the situation can often be more dangerous if you live with the perpetrator, and the emotional suffering attached to domestic abuse can make finding help even more difficult.
That being said, if you are assaulted by someone you know or live with then you are afforded protection under criminal law and it is possible to prosecute. Meanwhile, victims of abuse can apply for civil court orders that tell the abuser to stop harassing or hurting them, whilst demanding they keep out or stay away from the home.
If there are children in the home, then the Family Courts can also step in to consider where and with whom they should live. As part of this order, they will regulate and monitor contact between the children and other parent, ensuring their wellbeing is protected during visits.
It is important to remember that criminal law and civil law are two separate systems and are administered by different courts. Whilst civil law is primarily aimed at protection or compensation, the criminal law is aimed at punishing an offender, with cases heard in either the Magistrates’ or Crown Court depending on the charge. Under the civil law, if the offender is in breach of the orders made against him, then this can be punishable under criminal law.