Evidence-based media reporting on violence against women and their children can help readers, listeners and viewers understand how widespread it is, who is affected, what drives it and how it can be prevented. Reporting can also help influence:
Leave out details that might identify survivors.
Name the violence for what it is: ‘violence against women’, ‘family violence’, ‘psychological violence’, ‘elder abuse’, ‘child exploitation material’, ‘rape’ and ‘murder’.
Use active language, e.g. ‘man assaults wife’ instead of ‘woman assaulted.’Where safe/legally possible, name the relationship between victim and perpetrator to remind your audience that most violence against women is perpetrated by somebody they know.
Use respectful language and headlines to articulate the seriousness of the violence. Seek to uphold the dignity and humanity of the victims, survivors and their families. Plan how to maintain respect once the story is live, including social media.
Use statistics to demonstrate the prevalence and to contextualise the story. Evidence shows that most violence against women and their children is driven by gender inequality.
Don’t perpetuate harmful stereotypes about gender, race, disability, sexuality or age. Consider the impact of images on the victim-survivor, their family, or on other survivors of violence. Avoid images that disempower or infantilise victim-survivors, such as ‘clenched fists’ or ‘cowering women’.
Develop good relationships with violence against women experts so they can be contacted to help put the issue into context.
Always include support details at the end of every story.
There is a long history of misrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly when reporting on violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
It is the media’s responsibility to ensure that reporting does not contribute to this harm, or to the harm experienced by survivors, their families and communities.
Read more about reporting on violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the national media guidelines.