Press Release

27 July 2021

Refuge statement on Joey Barton’s court appearance

In response to the statement by Bristol Rovers Football Club last night, which was released following media coverage of manager Joey Barton’s court appearance, Ruth Davison, Refuge Chief Executive said:

‘One in four women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime and 2 women a week across England and Wales are killed by a current or former partner. Bristol Rovers average attendance pre covid was 8,320. If that was compromised entirely of women, at least 2,080 would have experienced domestic abuse at an average game.

A tactic often used by perpetrators of abuse is to tell women that no one will believe them. I would challenge Bristol Rovers to consider whether their use of the term ‘victimless crime’ will dispel or exacerbate that notion.

If we want to seriously challenge attitudes towards violence against women and girls then we must work to challenge male attitudes, which are propped up by misogyny and patriarchy. At a time when violence against women and girls has never been higher on the public or political agenda, and conviction rates at a shockingly low level, we expect better. There is clearly a lot of work to do. Words are important and should be chosen carefully.

If you are experiencing abuse and need support, refuge is here for you. You can call us free on 0808 2000 247, 24 hours a day or visit You are not alone. Refuge will listen to you, we will hear you, and we will believe you.

We know there will be many Rovers fans, men and women, who will be deeply troubled by the clubs statement. We thank every single one of you who is helping to raise this issue and challenge the language used.’


About Refuge:

Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.

Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit