Every week in the UK, two women are murdered by a partner or ex-partner.
Some of these deaths attract media attention, but due to a lack of guidance, domestic homicides are too often reported in a way that compromises the dignity of the deceased woman and her living family.
In consultation with a coalition of domestic violence experts and victims’ families, Level Up have produced media guidelines to help journalists report on domestic violence deaths in a dignified way.
Here are the five things to remember:
- Accountability: Place responsibility solely on the killer, which means avoiding speculative “reasons” or “triggers”, or describing the murder as an uncharacteristic event. Homicides are usually underpinned by a longstanding sense of ownership, coercive control and possessive behaviours: they are not a random event.
- Accuracy: Name the crime as domestic violence, instead of “tragedy” or “horror”, and include the National Domestic Violence Helpline at the end of the article: 0808 2000 247.
- Dignity: Avoid sensationalising language, invasive or graphic details that compromise the dignity of the dead woman or her surviving family members.
- Equality: Avoid insensitive or trivialising language or images.
- Images: Avoid using stock images that reinforce the myth that it’s only a physical crime.
Every bad article on domestic violence is a missed opportunity to help prevent further deaths. Responsible reporting can improve public understanding of domestic violence, help victims and their families seek justice and help women at risk access support.
Journalists: sign up for trainings