This Sunday, millions of people will tune in to watch the Super Bowl. While it’s an exciting time for football fans across the nation—including this lifelong 49er fan—it also conjures up an old study that has been historically misquoted and misused surrounding domestic violence and the Super Bowl.
There is no hard evidence to support that Super Bowl Sunday is a “day of dread” for women, or has given rise to significantly more incidents of domestic violence than any other day. One study 20 years ago looked at incidents in one area, but it could not be generalized beyond that.
As advocates for victims of domestic and sexual violence and activists committed to preventing and one day ending violence against women and children, we have worked hard to counter this oft-repeated statement. We can’t let one misquoted study be used to discredit what we know to be the ongoing epidemic of violence against women. Domestic, sexual, and dating violence are serious problems 365 days a year.
While there have been no rigorous national studies on whether domestic violence increases during the Super Bowl, we DO know that women and girls—most often between the ages of 16 and 24—are beaten, raped, and killed every day by their partners. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in four women will experience abuse by a spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life. On average, three women a day are killed by their husband or boyfriend or former partner.
Instead of viewing the issue of domestic violence in the narrow context of a popular sporting event, we need to focus on protecting all women from violence, all year round.
Through services that support survivors and their families; prevention programs that teach young boys and girls how to foster respectful and non-violent relationships; community- and school-based programs that help children heal from violence and abuse; and crucial legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act that will be debated in the Senate next week, we can help our nation prevent and one day end domestic and sexual violence.
Our community plays an important role in dispelling the Super Bowl myth, and in doing so we should also continue to tell the truth about violence against women. It must end, and this Sunday marks to the perfect day to combat the myth and renew our commitment to creating futures without violence for all of our children.
For more information about the Super Bowl myth, visit Futures Without Violence.
Kiersten Stewart is the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for Futures Without Violence.