Women in World Cup abuse alert: Victim's warning over increase in domestic attacks during competition
A woman subjected to years of sexual abuse and violence has told how she was battered during the World Cup.
She is now urging other vulnerable people, mainly women, to seek help as the 2014 competition gets under way.
Mother-of-three Terri-Louise Graham, whose ex-partner Greg Logue was jailed earlier this year for nine years for abusing her between 2008 and 2011, said his violence against her increased during the 2010 World Cup. Shocking findings from Women's Aid showed that during the last tournament the number of assaults soared in the immediate aftermath of matches.
Figures showed that attacks on women by men rose by up to 30%.
An increased consumption of alcohol and more time spent in the home together watching matches have been blamed for the increased risk.
"He wasn't even a football enthusiast, but he used the World Cup as an excuse to drink more and more and when he returned home he then took his drunken anger out on me," Ms Graham said.
"The amount of money he spent on drink during that time was horrendous."
Ms Graham spoke out to support an initiative in Londonderry aimed at raising awareness of the problem.
Campaigners will visit up to 20 bars in the city centre and distribute specially-designed beer mats and information leaflets on the help available.
The five-week football competition gets under way this evening.
Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland urged men and women to be aware of the potential of being attacked, and appealed to them to seek immediate help if they are at risk. "In our experience, the combination of risen tensions when watching matches and excessive alcohol consumption create an environment where perpetrators of abuse are more likely to commit extreme acts of physical violence," director Annie Campbell said.
"This doesn't mean that football causes domestic violence – in the vast majority of cases, domestic violence will already be present in the relationship, whether that is in the form of psychological, financial, emotional, physical or sexual abuse."
She added: "What events like the World Cup do is act as an excuse for perpetrators to commit physical violence and lower their inhibitions so that the violence is more extreme."
Police said violence would not be tolerated and urged anybody with any concerns to contact them.
A campaign, Behind Closed Doors, also appeals to neighbours, friends and family to report abuse.