X Factor star helps blow the whistle on domestic abuse this World Cup

X Factor and Happy Monday’s star Rowetta is backing a Greater Manchester domestic abuse campaign in the run up to and during this year’s World Cup.

The campaign is being launched as research shows cases of domestic abuse increase by nearly 30 per cent on England match days.

Rowetta said: “This campaign is so close to my heart, as most people know, I escaped from a very violent marriage.  If I hadn’t found help, and a refuge, I doubt I would be here now.  I thought I had no way of escaping, and I didn’t think I had the courage.  Everybody going through abuse needs to know that there is a way out.”

Supporting this campaign is the 10 local authorities, Greater Manchester Police, the Greater Manchester Domestic Abuse Helpline and Greater Manchester Public Health Network, who have come together to urge domestic abuse victims, their friends and families as well as those committing the abuse to seek help and support in the run up to and during the World Cup.

The window display consisting of a living room scene with items such as a football shirt, a remote control and a beer bottle taking centre stage will be on show throughout the World Cup and will be a reminder to shoppers that help is available to those who need it.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, GMP’s lead on Domestic Abuse said: “Competitive tension, and increased alcohol consumption, can provoke abuse and violence at home.  We want to urge victims, their friends and families not to wait, but to seek help and advice immediately before the abuse escalates.

“We will have specialist domestic abuse officers on duty at key times during the tournament to ensure that full support is available to those in need.  Our partner agencies also provide valuable help for victims.

“Offenders also need to be clear that the World Cup cannot be used as justification for any abusive behaviour.  Support services are available for them to get help, but if they choose to become violent or abusive then we will arrest them and ensure that they are brought to justice.  Our priority is to protect victims.”

A series of hard-hitting posters incorporating images of a football shirt, a remote control and a broken beer bottle will be displayed in locations such as hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and licensed premises, while adverts will run on buses across Greater Manchester.

Information cards will also be distributed providing domestic abuse victims, their friends and families and perpetrators with some key contact numbers for support services.

Sam Priestley, Chief Officer, Independent Choices said: “Our helpline, which has run for over 30 years, sees an increase in calls around major sporting events and often incidences are related to people drinking more.

“We are very encouraged that the Greater Manchester as a region has come together with a strong voice against domestic abuse during this World Cup.  Our message is seek help, and the earlier the better, even if it is just to find out your options, local support is available. If you are a victim of domestic abuse or know someone who is then call the Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 636 7525.”

For more information about those services available to help stop domestic abuse, people can visit: www.endthefear.co.uk.  Those responsible can also get help to stop by contacting the Respect Phoneline: 0845 122 8609.

Kate Ardern, lead GM Director of Public Health for Domestic Abuse added: “Violence and abuse are experienced by women and men from all backgrounds, with devastating consequences for their future physical and mental health.  This is a serious public health issue and we welcome this campaign to get the message out that domestic abuse is not acceptable in our society and that help is available.

“Anyone affected by abuse by a partner, ex partner or a family member can approach their GP or nurse for help.  The Domestic Abuse Helpline staff can also offer support, so we want people to know that they don’t have to put up with abuse and that they can get help to stay safe.”

Rowetta concludes: “This problem will never go away, but hopefully more and more people will see that there is help out there and no matter how weak you feel, you can regain your strength and get your life back, as I did.”