Key Principles for Responsible Reporting of Domestic Violence


When you’re reporting on domestic violence, you can help listeners to see it as an important issue that everyone can take action on. These principles are taken from the Our Watch Reporting on Domestic Violence guidelines.

  1. Name it. Always use the term “domestic violence” when it applies.
  2. Safety comes first. Ensure reporting doesn’t compromise the survivor’s safety.
  3. Know the law. Be aware of the legal parameters that outline what can and can’t be reported in a situation where a protection order of some kind has been issued, or where children are involved.
  4. Violence is never acceptable. The perpetrator is always solely responsible for a violent situation.
  5. Domestic violence is serious and life threatening. It is never appropriate to sensationalise or trivialise domestic violence.
  6. Acknowledge that this crime has both a victim and a perpetrator. Don’t focus only on what happened to the survivor. Emphasise that someone perpetrated the violence, and it is a crime.
  7. Take the emphasis away from ‘stranger danger’. Most violence against women is perpetrated by somebody known to the survivor.
  8. Use sensitivity and good judgement when reporting survivors’ stories. Do everything you can to uphold the survivor’s dignity, and remember there may be trauma associated even with events that occurred many years ago.
  9. Contextualise the story with statistics. Use statistics on domestic violence to frame the story.
  10. Domestic violence has a significant gendered dimension. Acknowledge domestic violence occurs in a context where power and resources are unequally distributed between genders, and that women are much more likely to be victims than men.
  11. Humanise the story with appropriate terminology. Refer to victims by name where possible and where consent has been given. If that isn’t appropriate, be as specific as you can: “woman who has been a victim of domestic violence,” or “survivor.”
  12. Include information about available support options for people who have experienced domestic violence. Including the national 1800RESPECT line.
  13. Call on experts for comment. Don’t just rely on police or the judiciary for comment. Use community experts to put the issues in context.