Power and Control on the Pitch

Power and Control on the Pitch

This week’s match (England V Columbia) was a masterclass in boundary management, and a great insight into the types of behaviours, born of fear and insecurity, that some will use in order to try to dominate others.

Colombia used harassment, tension building, violence, threatening behaviour, sabotage and intimidation throughout the match, and fair play to England, they did a good job of not letting that get under their skin. We all know that we should form our networks from sound people who help us progress our lives, but the reality is that sometimes you just get trapped on a pitch with people who want to win by bringing you down. It is a truth that some people function by sucking power from those around them with behaviours that drain.  The England team modelled handling that with dignity.

Let’s transpose that to getting trapped in your home with that behaviour. To having to fend off the above tactics of domination each and every day, of having children in the mix, financial pressures, loss of your support network and let’s imagine how hard it is to defend those boundaries.

England players train in sports psychology and Gareth Southgate has learnt the power of the mind on the pitch the hard way. But most people don’t, most people don’t fall in love with an attitude that they are playing a game. Most people fall in love and love the fact that they can become vulnerable, because being vulnerable with the person closest to us should be possible, it should be liberating and that other should be someone to whom we can entrust that vulnerability.

But when you love and the other person has issues with power and domination, when they need your power to feel powerful themselves – your vulnerability becomes their leverage. The digging away at you becomes the way in which your space to breathe, to think, to function, to make decisions becomes eroded.

Football players know that the game can only last so long, that there is always an ending. But what about in the home environment – can the person who wants to control you, to take your power, deal with endings? No, they can’t, not unless it is on their terms. They don’t get to the end of the game and have a cry with frustration. They think ‘how dare you?’ and they up the ante. After sometimes years of ‘partnership’, of being lifted up and shoved down, of trying to make do and make the best of, of becoming more and more trapped by insidious and harmful behaviours the ending can be the worst part and the most unpredictable.

Oasis helps thousands of people affected by abuse in the home each year, and around 60 of those travel through our refuge services, places of safety, places where women and children who are too unsafe, who have found the courage and opportunity to leave and find respite. Every year we are touched by their courage, their determination to say ’No more’, but we never underestimate how hard it has been to make that change, and we honour all of those who aren’t able to yet. Because, if we can see the psychology of this behaviour and how it is used to try to affect outcome in a 90 minute game, then we know that leaving after years of it is a tremendously difficult thing to do.

Unfortunately, abuse in the home goes up 25% when England play, 36% when England lose and 11% the day after. During this match we saw so many mini-incidents that remind us why we do the work we do, and every single one of them has the potential to be understood by people all around the country as representative of what has to be endured by some on a daily basis. Thinking about these behaviours through the lens of this game might help us to spread the message of compassion for those who have to experience the power and control of the pitch as their daily life.

Tags: UK Says No More, Safe Lives, Women’s Aid, Surviving Economic Abuse

#whydoesnthejuststop? #ENGCOL #domesticabuse #saveourrefuge