FixedIt: What was the inquest told?

The ABC reported on the inquest into Kerry Michael’s alleged murder.

A number of quotes from the inquest were included in the article. Any one of them would have been a reasonable focus for a headline.

“Kerry Michael, 44, had been repeatedly bashed with a rock and left about 200 metres from the summit of Mount Roland, in Tasmania’s north, in 2015.”

“Detective Bryan said Michael told him he ‘was just trying to hurt her, I was hitting her with rocks and stuff — I was like a deranged lunatic’.”

“Dr Lawrence said she was struck between three to eight times, with at least one of the blows delivered while she was lying on the ground.”

Instead, the ABC chose to use the jealous husband snapped angle. This language has been highlighted in a huge number of reporting on how the media fails to report violence against women accurately. There are too many to list them all, but here are quotes from a few of them:

ANROWS: Media representations of violence against women and their children: Final report

Myths and misrepresentations still find their way into reporting. 14.8 % of incident based reporting offers excuses for the perpetrator, like he was drinking, using drugs, jealous/seeking revenge, “snapped” or “lost control”.

Though we know the news media can be a powerful source of information for women looking to leave a violent relationship, only 4.3 % of news reports included help seeking information (1800RESPECT or others).

Victorian Council of Social Service: Five Things Men Say to Justify Violence Against Women

“An all too common barrier to change can be the perception that our behaviour is out of our control at times. Many men I work with are reluctant to describe choices of violent behaviour they have made, instead using language that suggests a lack of responsibility; ‘I just snapped, just lost it’.”

Ombudsman Western Australia: Understanding family and domestic violence

“The research literature suggests that perpetrators of family and domestic violence will take steps to avoid being held accountable for their behaviour, including that perpetrators will attribute their behaviour to having ‘lost it,’ ‘lost control’, or ‘just snapped’. The research literature identifies, however, that violence is not the same as anger, and ‘while anger is an emotion, violence is a behaviour’. A decision is made to perpetrate violence, and ‘most men who are violent towards their partners do not usually display similarly violent or abusive behaviour towards others.’”

The ABC also did not include any information on domestic violence services or assistance lines, as per the Australian Press Council Guidelines on Family and Domestic Violence Reporting (PDF).

Once again, we do and should expect better than this from the ABC.

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron


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