By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
“We need a sea change in how women are portrayed by the media...A strong message that domestic violence is not acceptable needs to be conveyed backed up by punishments for the perpetrators. “ ~ Domestic violence survivor
The above quote from a participant in our research illustrates the significant role that the media plays in shaping people’s opinions about intimate partner violence (IPV). When it comes to raising awareness about IPV, there is perhaps no more effective way to reach the masses than through the media. This includes newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio. And, in today’s digital age, this also includes web-sites, blogs, and various social media outlets.
As media channels have become increasingly integrated, any one of these media outlets likely reaches people across multiple platforms. For example, a video from a TV news story is often posted on the channel’s web-site, which is then likely to be promoted on their social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.
What does this mean for survivors and advocates hoping to raise awareness about IPV? For one thing, it means that there’s a huge potential for media stories about IPV to reach more people, for a longer period of time than ever before. This is great news, because more people understanding the dynamics of IPV and the resources available to help means there’s a wider network of people in our communities who are equipped to address this issue and support survivors.
On the other hand, media coverage of IPV is not always helpful in raising awareness and educating the community, especially when stories are reported in ways that do not accurately describe the dynamics of abuse, use victim-blaming language, and--perhaps most dangerous of all--pose risks to the safety of victims and survivors.
I saw several examples of problems that can arise when IPV is covered irresponsibly in the media recently with all the news coverage of the Ray Rice and other domestic violence cases in the NFL. These included the following:
We hope to hear from you this month, too. What have been your experiences in working with the media? We’d love to hear the strategies that worked for you in your local communities and beyond!