Former Arsenal striker Smith joins domestic violence campaign

Arsenal's Kelly Smith celebrates after winning the SSE Women's FA Cup

Arsenal's Kelly Smith celebrates after winning the SSE Women's FA Cup - Credit: PA

Help is still out there for victims of domestic violence, despite the ‘stay at home’ message designed to combat the spread of coronavirus, says former Arsenal and England striker Kelly Smith.

England's Kelly Smith (right) battles with Sweden's Caroline Seger

England's Kelly Smith (right) battles with Sweden's Caroline Seger - Credit: PA

Lockdown measures across the globe have created a spike in reports of domestic abuse, and football’s world governing body FIFA is working with the World Health Organisation and the European Commission to launch the £SafeHome campaign to support women and children at risk.

Stressful situations, such as those experienced during the pandemic and the serious economic impact created by it, exacerbate the risk of abuse, while the distancing measures can make victims feel isolated from their usual support network of friends and family.

Smith is one of 15 current and former players to join a campaign to raise awareness of the heightened risk, and told PA: “If you are in that situation there are helplines available. Hotlines, support services, social workers, child protection staff, even shelters.

“It’s really important they know the numbers to call if they are in an emergency situation. They need to reach out to supportive family members, friends, neighbours, anybody that’s in their local circle of friends.

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“It’s important they stay in touch with people and don’t feel isolated by themselves. Talking helps, and there are people out there that can help them. Even using a code word or a signal in times of an emergency is key, because the perpetrator doesn’t know that key word, and then they can reach out and get help that way.”

Almost one in three women experience physical and/or sexual abuse in their lifetime, while 38 per cent of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.

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It is also estimated that one billion children aged between two and 17 (or half the world’s children) have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino added: “We cannot stay silent on this issue that negatively affects so many people.

“Violence has no place in homes, just as it has no place in sports. Football has the power to relay important social messages, and through the £SafeHome campaign, we want to ensure that those people experiencing violence have access to the necessary support services they need.”

*Call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.

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