The media can play an important role in primary prevention of men's violence against women, but only if it pays close attention to how domestic violence, offenders, and victims are portrayed. Media coverage of DV tends to focus on high-profile cases or isolated incidents rather than on the broader context of domestic violence against men and boys.
Some studies have suggested that exposure to media reports about domestic violence increases the risk of becoming a victim yourself. If you look at the news, this might lead you to believe that violence is an ordinary part of life for men and that you should not be surprised to learn that your partner has beaten someone else before. This could cause you to feel insecure about your own ability to handle violence, which could put you at risk of becoming a victim yourself.
Other research has shown that exposure to media coverage of domestic violence arrests helps reduce re-arrest rates among convicted abusers. This may be because seeing other people arrested makes readers think that violence is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. It also may be because reading about successful prosecutions encourages more victims to come forward.
Domestic violence is a serious problem that affects millions of people around the world.
According to one study of worldwide reporting on violence against women, the media frequently sensationalises domestic violence against women and disproportionately covers female perpetrators of abuse. The media also commonly portrays victims as physically weaker than their abusers.
In a survey conducted in 2001, nearly one in three women reported being beaten by their partners. But the media often focuses on violent men rather than on women who suffer violence at the hands of others. A recent study found that articles on violence against women in the New York Times tended to focus on male perpetrators over female victims more than articles in other newspapers. This suggests that the media may not be giving an accurate picture of how common violence against women is.
The media can have a strong influence on public opinion regarding issues of gender equality and domestic violence. Some studies have shown that media coverage can change people's perceptions of what is acceptable behavior between spouses or partners, leading some individuals to believe that certain actions are not only permissible but also effective in controlling or punishing abusive behaviors.
Domestic violence has been portrayed in film and television entertainment. These depictions can either promote respect for women's rights and help prevent violence against them, or serve to normalise it.
In general, the media does a bad job of instilling in the public a comprehensive awareness of domestic violence. As a result, many academics suggest that such media depictions establish a hegemonic patriarchal worldview that obscures the subject of domestic violence as well as the underlying social dynamics that produce it.
Some researchers have gone further to say that domestic violence is normalized by popular culture because it serves to control women and uphold male dominance within society. Others have argued that domestic violence is presented in popular media as a way for men to release their aggression toward women or otherwise give expression to their unexpressed emotions.
Still others have suggested that domestic violence is common in popular culture because it offers viewers a convenient shortcut to justice. Some domestic violence victims may feel uncomfortable reporting the crime due to fears of not being taken seriously or of being blamed for the incident. By depicting violence against women as ordinary rather than exceptional, violent media can make them less reluctant to report these crimes.
Finally, some scholars have pointed out that domestic violence is commonly portrayed in popular culture because it allows for exciting stories with clear-cut good and evil characters. By focusing on the character's desire for revenge or the strength of a woman fighting back, television programs tend to overlook the more complex factors that lead people to abuse others.