Euro 2012 has coincided with some police forces conducting domestic abuse awareness raising campaigns.
It appears that England’s results - whether loss or win - can cause reports of violence in the family home to spike - with some parts of the country seeing up to 80 per cent rise.
Awareness raising isn’t exactly unwelcome action by the police but it is not half as useful as just making sure they have the powers and resources to remove perpetrators from the family home.
Sadly these powers are only a pilot in some parts of the country.
And as domestic abuse charities have pointed out, while the abuse may get worse during football championships it is a day to day feature of some family lives.
It also needs pointing out that not all abuse involves physical violence and this can be just as corrosive in its impacts on relationships and children’s outcomes.
A truly horrible example we were involved in responding to involved children whose school was concerned about their late attendance and poor behaviour in class.
Mum’s parenting was blamed and the family were referred to us. After a few weeks of trying to support her on “creating boundaries” she disclosed to us that her partner would start blazing rows if she refused to perform certain sex acts, meaning that the children often had a traumatic night before school.
This type of abuse leaves no visible marks and is only disclosed to us after weeks or months of building a relationship with a family. Often family members may not interpret it as abuse because it has not involved physical violence.
Usually it is not the reason why the family have been referred to us. In the case above it was the children’s behaviour and mum’s supposedly poor parenting which resulted in us intervening.
In many cases there is no way the children can be protected unless (usually) mum and children leave the family home. So we work closely with refuges and make applications to the Social Fund to enable the family to resettle.
Yet both refuge services and welfare support including the Social Fund are being cut. At the same time the Government is spending £448 million on DCLG’s Troubled Families Programme.
This makes no sense to us. The TFP is generally a very good thing. But our experience of supporting families tells us if the TFP does a good job of helping families turn their lives around, then more disclosure of all forms of domestic abuse is likely and services must be there to respond to that.
That includes the Home Secretary giving the police more powers and resources to remove perpetrators from family homes. Awareness campaigns are all very well but they need to be backed up by the ability to respond meaningfully to the abuse that is reported.
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