Reporting on violence against women during COVID 19

Welsh Women’s Aid have released an essential guide for journalists reporting on violence against women during the pandemic as part of a COVID 19 Bystanders Toolkit. The guide and toolkit, which includes information for concerned groups including neighbours and employers, can be found here:

The Welsh Women’s Aid guide to reporting the pandemic

Social distancing and self-isolation will significantly affect women and children experiencing violence and abuse. Unfortunately, home is not a safe place for many women and children across the country who live with the impact of abuse- for them this will be a particularly frightening time.

Unfortunately, we know from initial reports, information from other countries and previous pandemics that instances of violence and abuse will rise during the COVID 19 outbreak.

The media have a unique and powerful opportunity to impact the way that society-including perpetrators, survivors and their families, friends and communities receives messages about abuse and violence during this time.

We want to work with journalists during this time to make sure that messages across Wales on violence and abuse have as much positive impact as possible. We would urge journalists to consider the following Please Do and Please Do Not points when reporting on these instances.

Please Do

Include information about the Live Fear Free helpline in any article concerning domestic abuse and/ or sexual violence. Live Fear Free Helpline: 0808 80 10 800

Include the details of local support services in the area you are reporting from. While specialist services are adapting the way that they work in line with COVID 19 regulations, many are still open and able to provide support.

Emphasise that police forces across Wales are still responding to domestic abuse and sexual violence callouts. In an emergency, victims should call 999 and they can press 55 for silent support.

Please Do Not

Refer to homicides committed during this time as ‘coronavirus murders’. The cause of death is not COVID 19, it is the perpetrator.

Use victim-blaming language to discuss or as a justification for violence or abuse during the pandemic, for example that the victim was “nagging” the perpetrator. COVID 19 and any negative impacts it has on individuals and families are never excuses or justifications for violence or abuse.

Use justifications for the perpetrators behaviour, for example that they were “stressed” or “pushed over the edge” because of the pandemic. There are specialist support services that can help perpetrators or those concerned about their behaviour during this time, such as Respect UK. It can be helpful to signpost these in articles where appropriate.

Always keep in mind how frightening lock-down is for those in isolation with their perpetrator or historic survivors with limited access to their usual support networks.

Welsh Women’s Aid are always happy to talk to journalists if they require information or guidance about a story related to domestic abuse and or sexual violence – please get in touch with us.

Live Fear Free Helpline: 0808 80 10 800


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