Man ‘bit girlfriend’s ear off’ while watching England lose at 2014 World Cup
Regardless of which team wins the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, one thing is sure – women will suffer violence in the hands of their partners.
Today, as England are set to play against Wales, Gemma Williams has shared how her ex-boyfriend bit her ear off as he watched the national team lose a game.
On the day of the brutal attack, England faced Italy in the World Cup in June 2014, a match they lost.
Her then-partner, David Barr, now 46, left her concussed for months and ‘mentally scarred for life’.
Gemma – who was 29 at the time – has spoken out about the link between the World Cup and domestic violence, which increases by a staggering 38% when the national team loses.
The cleaning company assistant, from Mold, North Wales, said: ‘It was absolutely awful. I couldn’t leave the house for two months, I was off work for three months and the concussion lasted even longer.
‘He had shown some signs of aggression, but I didn’t pick up on it properly as I’d never experienced that before.
‘On the day it happened, England were playing Italy in the World Cup. David was drinking and watching the game, then an old colleagues messaged me and just asked how I was.
‘David saw it and took it the wrong way. He got up and smashed my phone to pieces, before punching me and continuing to beat me whilst I lay unconscious on the kitchen floor.
‘I ended up in hospital the following day with a severe concussion, broken jaw and part of my ear bitten off.
‘I could not even get a hairbrush through my hair because it was so matted with blood.
‘He tried to get me to tell people I had fallen over the dog, but after a few days I told my friend and she called the police – thank God.’
Alcohol is a major player in the relationship between football and domestic abuse.
Earlier this year, a report from the London School of Economics (LSE) found binge drinking is the key factor, with alcohol-linked violence against partners happening more often on match days.
The research used detailed and confidential data from Greater Manchester Police, combining five datasets on domestic abuse calls and crimes over an eight-year period.
These records contain the timing, location, description, type of relationship, and if the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Gemma is now happily married, but says healing from the attack is ‘never-ending’.
She hopes that the high rates of domestic violence associated with the World Cup improves.
Her story comes to light just days after Women’s Aid launched a new campaign, highlighting the increased frequency and severity of existing domestic abuse during major football tournaments.
‘The short term impact of the attack was absolutely awful,’ Gemma said.
‘I had to have post-it notes around the house to remind me of things because my concussion was so bad.
‘It’s taken a long time to trust again. Luckily, I’ve married someone I’ve known for 20 years so the trust is there.
‘But at first I was so scared, everything I walked round a corner I thought he’d be there.
‘The World Cup is definitely a trigger for domestic violence because of the amount of drinking and how hyped everyone gets.
‘It’s also about the individual’s personality as well, but when you see riots at football clubs over a game, it’s just ridiculous.
‘The culture of football and the World Cup encourages violence towards women, it needs to change.’
Gemma’s ex David was arrested and later sentenced at Mold Crown Court in August 2014 to six years behind bars.
He plead guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
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