FixedIt: How serious is she?

Yahoo News reported a man was arrested for a “domestic violence offence” after allegedly stabbing a woman in the chest. She’s now in hospital with life threatening injuries.

It’s a typical rehashing of a police media report where few details are available on the day of the attack. Also, the man has been charged, so the case is now sub judice and journalists can’t publish anything that could influence potential jurors’ view of his guilt or innocence.

They can, however, still report accurately. 

“QLD woman serious after domestic stabbing”? Do they mean she is frowning about it? Is she serious about stabbings? What is a “domestic stabbing”? Is it something that happened in Australia, not overseas? Why is the man who was arrested and charged invisible?

I’m not comfortable with the term “domestic violence”. It narrows and minimises how we understand intimate terrorism and partner abuse. In this case, however, we don’t know if those descriptions are accurate. “Domestic violence” conveys that it was violence allegedly committed by a man known to the victim and differentiates it from the far less common attack by a stranger, so it’s the best option in these circumstances. 

Writing accurate headlines about men’s violence against women takes a little more time and thought than the vague, over-simplified example shown here. Avoiding sub judice contempt while focussing on the crime and the alleged perpetrator (and still centring the victim) in a few short words isn’t easy. 

That’s no excuse for not doing it, it’s all the more a reason to put effort and though into the reporting to make sure it is accurate.

—-

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

1800 RESPECT
Sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling and support.24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
Ph: 1800 737 732
www.1800respect.org.au 

Djirra – Aboriginal Family Violence Response & Support Service
9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday
Ph: 1800 105 303
djirra.org.au 

Suicide Call Back Service
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Ph: 1300 659 467
www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au

Kids Helpline
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Phone: 1800 55 1800
www.kidshelp.com.au

MensLine Australia
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Phone: 1300 78 99 78
www.mensline.org.au