A Derry group which works with victims of domestic abuse has launched a poster campaign to coincide with the European football championships.
The Women’s Advocacy Project which is based at Dove House in the Bogside, helps and supports people in abusive relationships.
They say they’ve launched the ‘It’s An Own Goal’ campaign to increase awareness.
“This campaign has been launched because of the rising rate of abuse which happens during major football tournaments,” says Women’s Advocacy Worker Niamh Canavan, referring to national statistics which pointed to a 25 per cent increase in domestic abuse incidents during the last Euros tournament in 2010.
“We know for a fact that there are heightened tensions during events like this. When you have football competitions there can often be a lot of drink involved too. It often surprises people when they hear that domestic abuse can occur more around these times but the tension surrounding them means that it often happens regardless of the result.
“These situations will usually arise in cases where there is already domestic abuse happening. The message we’re sending out is that we want people to seek help immediately. We have the number for the 24 hour domestic abuse helpline on the posters and in an emergency people should call 999.”
Niamh and her colleagues have spent the past number of days distributing posters in various places across the city.
“People have been receiving them really well and the response has been good,” says Niamh.
“It definitely helps raise awareness because many of the people we’ve been talking with would have said that they were shocked at the thought that there are more domestic abuse incidents at these times. What we always say is that no one wants their country to win more than the victim of domestic abuse.
“We’re here to support people at this time and to signpost them to other organisations where they can get help. In one country, during the World Cup in 2014, domestic abuse incidents rose by 38 per cent so we all know that this is a very real issue.”
Those who are affected by domestic abuse can telephone the 24 hour helpline on 0800 917 1414 or alternatively call the emergency 999 number. Staff at the Women’s Advocacy Project at Dove House can be contacted at 02871 269327.