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Guidelines for reporting violence against women

5 minute read

Evidence-based reporting

Evidence-based media reporting on violence against women and their children can help readers, listeners and viewers understand:

  • how widespread violence against women is
  • who is affected
  • what drives it
  • how it can be prevented.

Reporting can also help influence:

  • how women and their children understand their experiences of violence and their decisions about whether to speak out or seek support.
  • the way perpetrators understand their choices to use violence and whether to seek support to change their behaviour.
  • public policy and legislation – for example, the #LetHerSpeak campaign to abolish sexual assault victim gag laws in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Victoria, allowing survivors to share their stories publicly.

Find key statistics about violence against women in Australia on the Quick facts page.

How to report on violence against women and their children

Watch the video below to find out more about reporting on violence against women and their children.

Eight tips for reporting violence against women

1. Safety first

Leave out details that might identify survivors.

2. Name it

Name the violence for what it is: ‘violence against women’, ‘family violence’, ‘psychological violence’, ‘elder abuse’, ‘child exploitation material’, ‘rape’, ‘murder’, ‘coercive control’ or ‘non-physical abuse’.

3. Keep the perpetrator in view

Use active language, for example ‘man assaults wife’ instead of ‘woman assaulted’. Where safe and legally possible, name the relationship between victim and perpetrator to remind your audience that most violence against women is perpetrated by somebody they know.

4. Be respectful

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.

5. Reflect the evidence

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.

6. Use appropriate imagery

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’.

7. Quote experts

Develop good relationships with violence against women experts so they can be contacted to help put the issue into context.

8. Include support options

Always include support details at the end of every story.