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Football and Fights: Why Domestic Violence Reports Jump at Certain Times of the Year

Healthy Lifestyle
Published: Oct. 21, 2019


It’s the time of year many football fanatics eagerly await.

Saturday and Sunday plans are often dictated by what time the Huskers, Hawkeyes, Chiefs, Broncos or other teams play. Excitement is in the air, and so is the smell of food and beer. But if a favorite team gets handed a loss, some households experience much more than emotional shouting at the big screen.


Tackling the connection

Studies show that reports of domestic violence tend to increase during football season, especially when the home team is expected to win but doesn’t. Some research indicates as much as a 10% jump in reports of domestic violence following those types of losses. And yet, cases go unreported.

While the combination of alcohol, heightened emotions and lack of control over an outcome can certainly influence someone’s actions, football, alone, doesn’t make someone violent. A tough loss, however, can present a prime opportunity for a violent culmination of certain patterns of behavior.

Patterns that should serve as red flags include:

  • Name-calling or insulting
  • Control over finances and activities
  • Threatening words or actions
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Victim blaming
  • Jealousy
  • Unfounded accusations
  • Anger or irritability with drug or alcohol use

Domestic violence usually starts subtly – often with one or two patterns – and intensifies over time. Many victims don’t realize they’re in a toxic relationship, and some even justify violent activity with excuses for why their partner acts out.


High-stress = higher rates

Much like football season, holidays, too, are associated with higher numbers of domestic violence reports.

Holidays can be stressful. Money is tight, calendars are full and expectations are at an all-time high. Reports of partner violence typically jump more than 20% on these major holidays:

  • Thanksgiving
  • New Year’s Eve
  • Memorial Day
  • Fourth of July

Christmas isn’t one of the holidays that sees an uptick in abuse reports. Experts suggest that could be due to a number of reasons, such as:

  • Couples trying to keep up appearances or “save face” in front of family and friends
  • The survivor’s inability to make a report without being caught
  • The survivor’s uncertainty of who to call on such a big holiday

While Christmas Eve and Day remain quieter than other holidays, the entire month of December – which is stressful for many – tends to trend upward in domestic violence calls.

Pregnancy and periods of financial hardship are also high-stress times linked to increased domestic violence.

Again, there’s no excuse for violence. But if research tells us anything, it’s that risk factors for perpetration – such as aggressive behavior, impulsiveness, heavy drug and alcohol use, and desire for power and control – can escalate in the presence of stress.


The takeaway

Make no mistake: Domestic violence happens all year round. Methodist Health System sees and treats just under 100 survivors a year. But being aware of statistically high-volume months or seasons can be lifesaving for yourself or someone you know.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, call:

Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital have a team of specially trained nurses who care for victims of domestic violence. They provide a medical-forensic exam to evaluate and document injuries, and they also provide community resources as well as follow-up medical recommendations.

And if you’re concerned about a loved one’s safety, reach out! Simply being a steadfast friend is key to a survivor’s healing process.

Remember: Leaving a violent relationship takes determination and careful planning. Studies show that leaving is the most dangerous and lethal time for survivors.

Ask your loved one what they need and reassure them that you are there to help. You can get creative in the ways and times you offer help. In a time full of fear and anxiety, you can be their calm. You can be their hope.

More resources:

Jen Tran

About the Author:

Jen Tran, RN, SANE, Methodist SANE/SART Program Coordinator, says she is inspired every day by the passion and tirelessness of her fellow Methodist SANE nurses. She is also also inspired by the community and the way everyone pulls together to try to put an end to sexual assault and domestic violence. 

See More Articles by Jen Tran