Responsible reporting on domestic violence

I don’t want to be overly critical of an article that highlights domestic abuse, because, after all, it is doing a service by highlighting the abuse in the first place, but the wording involved in so many articles borders on the offensive and dangerous.

I read this article in the Irish Examiner earlier this week, and was so struck by the fact that the leading language in it made it sound like this woman had been horrifically beaten and injured by her partner because she made his dinner wrong. He didn’t assault her because he didn’t like his pork chops; he assaulted her because he is a deeply unwell and unstable person who uses violence to express his emotions. The woman involved had to take the stand in court with the aid of a walking stick. To place a jaunty and clickbait-style headline like “Cork wife assaulted over her cooking” is to fully detract attention away from the fact that domestic violence in this country is underreported and overlooked.

Disappointing dinners don’t result in domestic violence. Small annoyances don’t result in life-threatening injuries. Deeply rooted mental health issues and uncontrolled anger are what are to blame for women getting beaten black and blue. I really wish newspapers would stop belittling such horrific cases for the sake of getting a snappy headline.

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