Center for Domestic Violence Prevention

Press Releases

Tips for Reporting on Domestic Violence

  • Name the crime
    Do not say “a man forced a woman to have sex with him.” Use the term and say, “a man raped a woman.” Not using the actual term for a crime makes the crime seem less serious and it causes confusion to readers. It is more important to send a clear message to your readers than to keep a dangerous writing style.

  • Safety first- do not put the victim at risk
    Do not disclose the victim’s identity. Remember that domestic violence is life-threatening and dangerous. When you use a victim’s name or picture, you put her, her family and her community at risk.

  • Know the law
    Understand that these crimes are illegal and punishable by law. Understand these laws and how to report on them.

  • Never excuse violence
    Do not justify violence by pointing out a victim’s faults, acts, etc. If a man committed violence, he chose to do so. The victim does not make him use violence.

  • Domestic violence is serious and life-threatening
    Do not sensationalize or desensitize the issue because it is a serious issue.

  • Acknowledge that the crime has a victim and a perpetrator
    The victim is not the

  • Take the emphasis away from ‘stranger danger’
    Perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence are almost always known to the victim.

  • Use sensitivity and good judgement when reporting survivors’ stories
    Do not blame the survivor and do not disclose their identity without their permission.

  • Contextualize the story with statistics
    Many people do not understand how big of a problem domestic violence is. Use statistics to show that this is an ongoing problem that has widespread consequences that affect all members of the community.

  • Recognize that domestic violence has a significant gendered dimension
    Women are much more likely to be victims of domestic violence. Please portray this accurately.

  • Humanize the story with appropriate terminology
    ○ Do not call the perpetrators monsters or other such terms. They are often normal people who are known to the survivor. Calling them monsters makes instances of violence seem more uncommon and encourages survivors to stay with their abusive partners because they do not see them as “monsters.” Dehumanizing language perpetuates the cycle of violence.

  • Call on community experts for comment
    It is important to po