As a service, we made the decision not to share or make comment on a recent video made by boxer, Billy Joe Saunders, on our social media. Not because we wanted to hide it, but because we didn’t want to give him the publicity, nor give anyone else an opportunity to use it as a twisted instruction manual. Now however, his license has been suspended by the British Boxing Board and there have been consequences to his frankly appalling and dangerous actions, we feel we want to address it.
Saunders stated he was “joking” and did it to “take the heat off” the Covid-19 pandemic. We need the world to know that domestic abuse is never a joke. Need for domestic abuse services has grown by 80% in the last 10 years. This years Femicide Census revealed the highest number of women killed by men since the census began. 62% of children living in an abusive household are harmed directly with 90% of children being witness to abuse between their parents. All these alarming figures were recorded before the unprecedented position we now find ourselves in as a country. Houses in lockdown, movements restricted and in the constant company of our partners; a situation many perpetrators have been trying to recreate in their own homes for years has suddenly been handed to them on a plate. We are not questioning the government’s actions, we are asking that everyone be more aware of those for whom this situation is dangerous, and potentially life threatening. Agencies operating in this area of work are fearing a pandemic within a pandemic.
Since lockdown began there have been 9 deaths potentially related to domestic abuse. 2 women murdered and their husbands arrested, 2 whole family wipeouts. Is any of that remotely funny? One of the women’s three young children likely witnessed her violent death. Is that amusing? Even after apologizing and pledging £25000 to domestic abuse charities he added that he understands his sense of humour is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Whilst £25000 will go a little way to relieving what is a huge financial responsibility for domestic abuse charities, what we would like to see is Saunders and others who trivialize it, change their attitude towards domestic abuse. We’d like to see a genuine realization that it is a very real, terrifying part of millions of lives. That it is destructive to victims and children’s mental health and wellbeing, potentially for the rest of their lives. That it is life altering, often, sadly, deadly and that our current situation is raising the risk. There’s nothing at all funny to see here.