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Telling the Full Story: An Online Guide for Journalists Covering Domestic Violence

[Warwick, RI] On Tuesday, February 28, 2012, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence launched Telling the Full Story: An Online Guide for Journalists Covering Domestic Violence. The Online Guide is a reissue of the 2000 publication, The Domestic Violence Handbook for Journalists to provide resources and information to reporters who cover domestic violence homicides.

"This online guide puts the crucial information for domestic violence homicides, literally at the fingertips of reporters covering them," said Chris Wilhite, director of public relations at the RICADV. "We've had feedback from reporters on the beat that they need quick, immediate information at their disposal in information age. So the RICADV wants to be out front, providing reporters with the sources they need to tell the full story of domestic violence."

The Online Guide provides:

  • the most up to date statistics available about domestic violence
  • contact information for seeking out sources for content
  • quick reference to domestic violence statutes
  • best practices and tips for covering domestic violence
  • an easy to access Domestic Violence 101 reference
  • materials to print about domestic violence in news coverage


The Online Guide also provides the background about domestic violence coverage, including a Rhode Island Media Study conducted in 1999 with follow up studies in 2002 and 2010. Recently, RICADV communications staff interviewed reporters and survivors  about domestic violence coverage in Rhode Island. This feedback helped to structure the Online Guide.

Why This Online Guide?

Domestic violence is a hard issue to investigate and a complicated one to report. Yet increasingly, reporters are getting the message out that domestic violence is a crime and that there is help for victims.

So why has the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) developed this guide?

This guide is the result of a dialogue the we began over a dozen years ago with reporters and survivors of domestic violence about a particular type of media coverage - the domestic violence murder. Time and time again, though less often these days, the RICADV experienced a disconnect between the reporting of domestic violence in the context of a murder and most other coverage that domestic violence received.

The goal of this online guide is for reporters to see a murder or other crime involving intimate partners through the lens of domestic violence. The Online Guide provides reporters with information about Rhode Island's domestic violence law and an understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence. It also shares the lessons that the RICADV has learned through conversations with journalists, through its own work, through recommendations from survivors, and from a 3-year media study conducted by the Boston College Media Research Action Project. While the handbook focuses on the RICADV's experience in Rhode Island, these experiences are similar to what happens in other states.

Our hope is that the process that began with this guide will help advocates and survivors continue an important dialogue with those in the media. Reporters can make a difference in the lives of victims by lifting the veil of silence that allows domestic violence to go unchecked to the point of murder.

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About RICADV

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. We were formed in 1979 to support and assist the six domestic violence prevention agencies in Rhode Island. We not only support and give leadership to the six member agencies, but also strive to create justice for victims, and create awareness on the issue of domestic violence in RI.