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Domestic Violence & the Media

Invited presentation for the Greater New Haven Domestic Violence Task Force given at New Haven City Hall on November 14th, 2013, New Haven, CT.
by

Aaron Duke

on 26 January 2015

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Transcript of Domestic Violence & the Media

Rhode Island Coalition
Against Domestic Violence
Telling the Full Story:
An Online Guide for Journalists Covering Domestic Violence
www.dvonlineguide.org
"...Acquaintances of the couple expressed their utter disbelief at the alleged crime of passion, which police say the unemployed De Maio, 55, confessed to when they handcuffed him at gunpoint...."

Selection of Sources
Victim blaming occurs when victims are held responsible (or blamed) for the wrongful acts committed against them.
Sometimes there
isn't consensus.
Mutual Responsibility is when the situation is described in a way that makes it unclear who is the victim and who is the perpetrator.
Excusing the perpetrator is using language that minimizes and/or justifies his abusive behavior.
“I lost it, I just lost it,” he told the officers as he lay handcuffed on the ground, explaining he became enraged shortly after learning his wife was leaving him.
Rhode Island Domestic Violence Coalition Study
Results
Domestic Violence & The Media
Domestic violence is often a pattern that includes psychological, physical and sometimes sexual abuse.
Introduction
Sometimes there is consensus about problematic language
Victim Blaming
Compared print coverage of domestic violence murders
pre
handbook (1996-1999) and
post
handbook (2000-2002).
Domestic Violence & the Media
"Patient was hit in the face with a fist."
"Wife and toddler killed in crime of passion."
"Domestic dispute prompts shooting outside elementary school."
Psychological Abuse
Additional Research
Findings
&
Themes
Use of "passive voice" linked with higher levels of perceived responsibility of the victim.
One study found
>

88%
of all newspaper articles presented domestic violence as an isolated incident.
Almost 30% of domestic violence reported in the media involves a public figure, professional athlete, or celebrity.
...
and
is more likely to be used when the perpetrators are male and victims female.
What Can
We
Do?
Newspaper articles are more likely to mention the victim than the perpetrator (e.g., "Woman shot").
Most

common
form of intimate partner violence.
Long-term
impact
can be equal to or worse than physical abuse.
However, in the media, it is often reported as an isolated incident consisting solely of physical violence.
"I think we just need to pray for them," said Francoise Levinson, couple's real estate broker.
Levinson could not recall any red flags and characterized the family as a lovely couple....
Significant changes include:
Increased labeling of the murder of intimates as domestic violence.
Doubled usage of victim advocates as interview sources.
Domestic violence murders, previously framed as unpredictable private tragedies, are more commonly framed post-handbook as social problems warranting public intervention.
Use language to expose violence, clarify offenders ’ responsibility, highlight and honor victims ’ resistance, and contest the blaming and pathologizing of victims.
PROBLEMATIC REPRESENTATION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE MEDIA
GUIDELINES FOR REPORTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE MEDIA
Implying Mutual Responsibility
Excusing the Perpetrator
Selective Coverage
Sometimes there is consensus about appropriate language
Reporting on Domestic Violence in Connecticut
Victim Blaming
Implying Mutual Responsibility
Selective Coverage
Excusing the Perpetrator
Clearly Identify Perpetrator & Victim
Avoid Quoting Distant Acquaintances
Interview police, victim advocates, & other experts
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Avoid quoting distant acquaintances.
Interview police, victim advocates, and other experts.
Highlight the cyclical nature of most domestic violence.
Increase awareness of psychological and sexual domestic abuse.
Use language that clearly identifies the perpetrator and the victim.
Avoid language that places responsibility for abuse on the victim.
Guidelines
www.ctcadv.org
Highlight Cyclical Nature
Increase Awareness of Psychological/Sexual Abuse
Aaron
A. Duke
Tami
P. Sullivan
The Division of Prevention & Community Research
The Consultation Center
Department of Psychiatry
Yale University, School of Medicine
New Haven, CT
aaron.duke@yale.edu
tami.sullivan@yale.edu
Language can be used to conceal violence, obscure and mitigate offenders ’ responsibility, conceal victims ’ resistance, and blame and pathologize victims.
The Division of Prevention & Community Research
The Consultation Center
Department of Psychiatry
Yale University, School of Medicine
New Haven, CT
Full transcript