In Depth

Why domestic abuse incidents soar in the summer

Increased alcohol consumption and big sporting events are among contributing factors

Domestic violence is a year-round issue across the UK, with about 4.2% of men and 7.9% of women suffering abuse in 2018, according to recent statistics.

However, a new report from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) says that reported incidents of domestic abuse increase significantly over the summer months.

The force’s data indicates that domestic abuse incidents rise in late spring and summer, and also spike during the holiday season in December.

An upswing in parties and other social events, and the associated increase in alcohol consumption, is one contributing factor behind the periodic rise in violence, according to the California-based Marjaree Mason Center, a domestic violence charity.

Hot weather can also increase irritability and spark outbursts, while having children at home during school holidays can add to stress levels.

In addition, research has uncovered an increase in domestic violence incidents immediately after sporting events such as football tournaments.

A Lancaster University study found that incidents of domestic abuse in the region rose by 38% when the England national team played and lost in the World Cup tournaments in 2002, 2006 and 2010, and by 26% when England won or drew, compared with days when there were no matches.

Experts point out that people often drink or consume drugs while watching sport, leading to impaired judgement and reduced inhibitions. Gambling and betting are also common, and losing money can inflame tempers.

During the 2018 World Cup, the UK’s National Centre for Domestic Violence launched an awareness campaign with the tagline, “If England gets beaten, so will she”.

This disturbing trend has been noted in countries worldwide.

“Sporting bodies and alcohol brands also shoulder some of the blame for not doing enough to discourage excessive drinking by fans,” argues Melanie Pescud of Australia’s Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, in an article on The Conversation.

However, Monica McLaughlin, deputy director of public policy at the US National Network to End Domestic Violence, says that while the frequency of violence in abusive relationships may fluctuate, the power and control that underpins the abuse remains constant. 

“Coercive control doesn’t take a vacation,” she told HuffPost. “It’s there all the time.”

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