What really happens when football comes home? A look at all forms of domestic abuse, including financial abuse and coercive control

With the Qatar World Cup in full swing, many will be looking forward to England progressing. Yet there is an ugly side to the beautiful game that cannot be overlooked. With every game that England plays, instances of domestic abuse are expected to surge, warns the Crown Prosecution Service.

Many will recall the striking image of a Woman’s bloodied face accompanied by the words ‘If England gets beaten so will she’ released by the National Centre for Domestic Violence during the last world cup. This followed a 2014 study which found that, during the football World Cup, the number of reports of abuse to a police force in the north-west of England increased by 26% when England won or drew, by 38% when the team lost, and 11 percent the next day, win or lose.

But abuse takes many forms: physical, emotional, psychological and financial and economic, to name a few. The latter form of domestic abuse, financial and economic abuse, is less commonly understood and can be harder to identify. Despite being less well understood, financial abuse is increasingly being identified as an issue for many families, a 2008 study by the Centres for Financial Security found that 99% of domestic violence cases also involved financial abuse, this is a powerful method of keeping a partner trapped in an abusive relationship.

Financial abuse involves the use or misuse of money by the perpetrator which limits and controls their partner’s current and future actions and their freedom of choice. It can include restricting their partner’s ability to work and earn an income, using credit cards without permission, putting contractual obligations in their partner’s name, and gambling with family assets.

The result of financial abuse can be that survivors are left with no money for essentials, no access to their own bank accounts, no independent income and with debts that have been built up by their abusive partner in their own name. Even when survivors leave their partner, financial abuse can continue, particularly in cases where there is an ongoing need for child and / or spousal support over and above that calculated by the Child Maintenance Service. Economic abuse includes a wider pool of behaviour that is designed to create economic instability to limit survivor’s choices and ultimately their access to safety and can be part of a pattern of cohesive control.

As with many forms of abuse, this pattern of behaviour can start with small, seemingly insignificant actions, borrowing small amounts of money for example and not repaying it, that grow incrementally into behaviour that slowly but surely reduces the other party’s freedom, independence and safety. Financial abuse can happen to anyone, from the extremely wealthy to those living in poverty, as the driving force is not money but control. Understanding financial abuse and the associated patterns of behaviour can help to identify it, whether in your own relationship or those of your friends or loved ones.

Clearly, this behaviour will have a profound effect on any family or individual and may lead to a relationship breaking down with all the implications that may have. Whether you are married or not, there may be steps a solicitor can take to assist you in removing you or your children from this situation and guiding you through the next steps following a separation.

If you need to discuss this issue further in confidence or need more information on leaving an abusive relationship, or if you know someone who may be experiencing any form of abuse, click here or contact one of us here.

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