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Fact-Checking on Superbowl Sunday

by Jen Shafer

Here's a timely bit of "fake news" in light of the big game today: there is a longstanding rumor that there are more domestic violence reports on Superbowl Sunday than any other day of the year.

I actually believed this rumor for many years without bothering to check the facts behind it - because it makes sense, right? American football is generally pretty violent and the NFL itself has worked to address internal domestic violence issues. And, well, let's face it - Superbowl Sunday usually involves lots of alcohol consumption and sometimes betting, neither of which usually ends with hugs and puppies. 
 
BUT! According to Snopes, this bogus Super Bowl statistic remains a widely-cited and believed piece of misinformation. "The claim that Super Bowl Sunday is 'the biggest day of the year for violence against women' is a case study of how easily an idea congruous with what people want to believe can be implanted in the public consciousness and anointed as 'fact' even when there is little or no supporting evidence behind it."

For some "real news," here is what the State of Oregon Department of Corrections is teaching their employees at training.* The warning signs of men who engage in domestic violence are charm, isolation of victim, jealousy, emotional abuse of victim, and control of victim, and nationally:
- 1 in 8 women have suffered from domestic violence
- 1 in 12 women have been stalked
- 1 in 6 women have been forcibly raped
- 96% of employed women experience problems at work due to violence
- Abusers and stalkers harass 74% of employed women at work in person or by phone
- Domestic violence costs the US 3 to 5 Billion Dollars annually in job absenteeism
- Domestic violence costs $100 million annually in medical expenses
- Every 9 seconds in the US, a man beats a woman
- In Oregon, crisis service hotlines annually receive more than 50,000 in emergency calls and 37,000 in non emergency call from survivors of Domestic Violence

If you're outraged by these "real news" statistics, consider making a donation to our local Coos County non-profit, the SAFE Project (formerly the Women's Safety & Resource Center, now "Safety, Advocacy, Freedom, and Empowerment") - visit http://stopabusecoos.org/ for more information. The SAFE Project provides emergency services to women, men, and children in our community who are, or who have been, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. SAFE provides temporary and emergency shelter for clients who have been victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, as well as their children, and they have a 24-hour Crisis Hotline where an advocate can be reached 7 days a week to respond to an emergency crisis situation. (Volunteers are also welcome - click the link above for more info!)

As with any other issue, fact checking - rather than believing any/everything you read because it sounds fairly plausible from your world-view, is still important these days, so please do your research!

And as for today, please enjoy the game responsibly - and good luck to whatever team is the underdog because I don't really care!

* Huge thanks to Coos County Democrats Treasurer Schira Nelson for providing these State of Oregon Department of Corrections stats.