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Super Bowl Sunday Worst Day of Year for Violence Against Women

January 29, 1993 GMT

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ Super Bowl Sunday, one of the most widely anticipated days of the year for football fans, is a day of dread for many battered women, activists said Thursday.

″There is significant anecdotal evidence that Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year for domestic violence against women,″ said Sheila Kuehl, former actress and managing lawyer of the California Women’s Law Center.

″This game is terrifying for far too many women and that has to stop.″

Many women’s shelters report as much as a 40 percent increase in calls for help on Super Bowl Sunday and the following Monday, said Linda Mitchell of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, a media watchdog group.

″The Super Bowl is significant because it draws attention to the fact that there is a cycle of violence in many relationships and that cycle has trigger points,″ said Patricia Occiuzzo Giggans of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women.

″The betting, the bonding and the beer for the men can turn into beating for women,″ she said.

Kuehl, Mitchell and Giggans were among women’s advocates at a news conference at the Rose Bowl, site of Sunday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys.

″Domestic violence is one of the major issues in this country and it needs attention from the media,″ Mitchell said. ″It’s been ignored too long.″

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, or FAIR, urged NBC to air a public service announcement against domestic violence during the game, and the network announced Thursday it would do so during its pregame show.

″We think this is a very important issue for a very significant day,″ NBC spokesman Curt Block said.

Linda Mitchell, a spokeswoman for FAIR’s Los Angeles chapter, said the announcement was produced by the Philadelphia Coalition on Domestic Violence and adapted by FAIR for a national audience. It does not mention the Super Bowl or football.

Kuehl said a study by sociologists at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., found that men are more likely to batter their partners after their favorite team wins.

The study found that police reports of beatings and hospital admissions in northern Virginia rose 40 percent after games won by the Washington Redskins during the 1988-89 season, she said.

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″They see violence rewarded on television, and some of them react as though that’s an appropriate way to behave,″ she said.

The Los Angeles Police Department has reported an increase in felony domestic violence arrests during the past two Super Bowls. The daily average of such arrests in the city is 20, but during last year’s game there were 34 and in 1991 there were 27. Arrests on the following Mondays were slightly higher than average.

Alcohol plays a role in Super Bowl Day beatings, Ms. Kuehl said.

″But it’s not causal, it’s an enabler,″ she said. ″It breaks down inhibitions. But it’s not an excuse for hitting anyone.″