Best Practice Tips

Best Practice Tips for Reporting on Violence Against Women

1. Be Considerate

Report violence against women in a way that upholds the victim-survivor’s right to dignity and does not compromise their safety or anonymity.

Don’t sensationalise stories with graphic details about the crime, or personal details such as their transgender identity or their involvement in pornography or selling sex.

When covering any form of violence - including harmful traditional practices, like forced marriage or female genital mutilation - be clear that these are rooted in misogyny and avoid stigmatising any ethnic group or religion.

2. Blame

Make the perpetrator the subject of the sentence and assign the verb to them. This is how police are encouraged to write their reports, i.e. ‘The perpetrator forced the survivor to…’.

Never suggest that violence occurred because of what a woman was wearing, what they had drunk, if they had cheated, or any other reason. Perpetrators are responsible for their actions. Read more here.

3. Name the crime

Use sexual abuse, assault, harassment, rape, domestic abuse.

Instead of sex, sex scandal, affair, fondles, caress, domestic dispute, abusive relationship.

4. Describe the perpetrator

Use man, perpetrator, offender, abusive partner, rapist, husband, father, son.

Instead of fiend, beast, monster, great dad, good guy, respected professional.

5. Victim or survivor?

Use victim when an attack has resulted in the murder of a woman, when discussing the crime or criminal justice system, or when a woman describes herself as a one. Use survivor when referring to the woman in all other instances. Or if you have permission, use her name.

6. Get quotes from experts and survivors

Ask women’s organisations for comment and source case studies and interviews through them.

7. Use statistics to put the story in context

Individual stories of violence against women are part of a much larger problem. Find up to date stats here.

8. Images

Don’t use images that contribute to harmful stereotypes or objectify women. Find our free to use stock images here.

9. Include helplines – it can save lives

Your story might have an effect on women who have experienced or are experiencing the same violence. Providing sources of support can encourage women to seek help. Copy and paste them from here.

Download our best practice tips here

ZT logo