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Introduction: Media representation of intimate partner violence (IPV) can influence public opinion and understanding of the phenomena and guide health policies. The…
Introduction: Media representation of intimate partner violence (IPV) can influence public opinion and understanding of the phenomena and guide health policies. The current review has the aim to explore and discuss international, scientific literature focused on the portrayal of IPV in written forms of news media.
Method: Searching through EBSCO and PubMed, 2,435 studies were found and 41 were included in the current review.
Results: Bias in the portrayal of IPV was found within the studies included. While IPV-related news was mainly focused on male-perpetrated violence within heterosexual couples, little attention was paid to same-sex intimate partner violence (SSIPV). Newsworthy stories dominate IPV reporting within news media and a sensationalistic style was often employed. Furthermore, contextual information was often limited and the adoption of a thematic frame was rare, while news media were found to commonly employ an episodic frame. Official sources and family, friends and neighbours were the most quoted sources in news articles, while IPV experts were rarely drawn on for information. Regarding media representation of perpetrators, mainly regarding male abusers, news articles reported several reasons behind the violence with the consequence to justify and exonerate them from their responsibilities. Female perpetrators were found to be depicted, in some cases, as ‘mad’ or ‘bad’ people. Finally, victim-blaming content emerged within many of the articles included.
Conclusion: Bias in the media representation of IPV emerged in the current review, which needs to be addressed to positively influence public opinion and to promote an adequate understanding of the phenomena.