Reporting on sexual assault

Reporting on sexual assault

Reporting on Sexual Assault was developed by the  former Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault as a “backgrounder” for journalists and other media professionals, including bloggers and other producers of online forms of media.

It is intended to provide information about some of the key issues in reporting sexual assault, including:

  • language and details;
  • placing the news story in context; and
  • information about support.

This resource also provides further information to support the accurate and ethical reporting of sexual assault including:

  • guidelines for interviewing victim/survivors of sexual assault;
  • online and interactive media;
  • background information on sexual assault; and
  • current guidelines and other resources.

Sexual assault is highly prevalent in our society.

Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported offences. Many victim/survivors do not speak out about it because of fear and shame, among other reasons.

Victim blaming attitudes are still prevalent, and there is a lack of community understanding about the circumstances in which sexual assault occurs, and the impact it has on victim/survivors.

Research has found that a significant portion of the community holds attitudes and beliefs that justify, excuse, minimise or hide physical or sexual violence. Community attitudes that support violence may influence:

  • the behavior of perpetrators of sexual assault - by helping to promote, excuse or ignore problematic behaviour;
  • community responses to people who have been sexually assaulted, including whether their disclosure will be believed; and
  • whether or not victim/survivors recognise their experience as being sexual assault (e.g., because they think that “real” sexual assault is committed by a stranger), and whether they tell people about their experience, because they fear receiving a negative response. 

The framing of a news report can either:

  • confirm the acceptance of violence and misconceptions; or
  • foster supportive attitudes towards victims/survivors.

Changing social attitudes to sexual violence is a key priority of prevention programs. Responsible and ethical media reporting of sexual assault can support this goal.

Media backgrounder

What is sexual assault?

Currently there is no universally accepted definition of sexual assault in Australia.
Definitions vary, based on the range of behaviours viewed as constituting sexual assault or sexual violence. These might include:

  • sexual harassment;
  • sexualised bullying;
  • unwanted kissing and sexual touching;
  • sexual pressure and coercion; and
  • forced sexual activity.

Definitions may be based on experiential, behavioural, or legal understandings of sexual assault (See Sexual Assault Laws in Australia). The types of behaviours that you will be reporting on will most likely fall into the more serious end of this continuum, and these are the behaviours that are usually recognised as sexual assault. We will be using sexual assault and sexual violence interchangeably in this resource.

Sexual assault is not just a legal concept

The trauma of an experience of sexual assault remains with a person, irrespective of whether sexual assault is legally proven.

Victims/survivors experience a wide range of sexually violent and harmful behaviours and these are not necessarily encapsulated in legal definitions of assault.

This document relates to both male and female victim/survivors

However perpetrators are referred to as male to reflect the fact that the overwhelming majority of sexual offences - against both men and women - are perpetrated by men. Women can also be the perpetrators of sexual violence, though this is a relatively rare occurrence.

The significance of sexual assault

The impact of sexual violence

Victim/survivors of sexual assault often experience profound and ongoing trauma as a result. According to South East CASA, some of the impacts of sexual assault on victim/survivors include:

  • powerless and loss of control;
  • disturbed sleep;
  • depression;
  • anxiety;
  • fear; and
  • low self-esteem, amongst many others.

Sexual violence is a serious issue

VicHealth has identified violence against women as the most significant risk factor for the health of women aged 15–45 years, costing the Australian community $8.1 billion per year (Access Economics, 2004).

Sexual assault is one of the most under reported offences

Many victim/survivors do not speak out about it because of fear and shame, among other reasons.

Victim-blaming attitudes are still prevalent in Australian society

There is a lack of community understanding about the circumstances in which sexual assault occurs, and the impact it has on victims/survivors.

Sexual violence is preventable

As a community, we can take steps towards stopping sexual violence. Responsible and ethical media reporting is one way to help achieve this.

Misconceptions and stereotypes

There are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about sexual assault and they can appear in subtle ways in media reports.

Some of the most powerful myths of "real rape"

Myth: Perpetrators are strangers.

Reality: Most victim/survivors are sexually assaulted by someone know to them, such as a partner, friend or acquaintance. According to the Personal Safety Survey, in almost 80% of sexual assaults women knew the men who assaulted them.

Myth: It happens in parks, alleyways and other secluded public places.

Reality: Most victim/survivors are sexually assaulted in their home or another private location. Recorded crime data (PDF 5.6 MB) tells us that only 7% of reported sexual assaults took place on public streets.

Myth: A weapon is used.

Reality: According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics only about 2% of sexual assault incidents recorded involve the use of a weapon.

Myth: Additional injuries are sustained. 

Reality: The majority of victim/survivors do not sustain additional physical injuries during the assault. Just over a quarter (28%) of women sustained an injury in their most recent experience of sexual assault according to the ABS Personal Safety Survey.

Media reports

Media reports can be framed in a way that supports, rather than challenges, misconceptions about sexual assault. For example:

Police have issued a warning to women walking home from work in the dark to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings following a string of violent sex attacks in the past month. ("Women warned of Sydney sex attacks", The Daily Telegraph, 26/08/09)

This reinforces a number of misconceptions byassuming that:

  • The behaviour women engage in can either prevent or cause rape or sexual assault ("what was she doing walking by herself in the dark anyway?") rather than being caused solely by the decisions and actions of the perpetrator.
  • Sexual assault is committed in public, by a stranger and in a dark and isolated location. 
  • Women are safe from sexual violence in their homes and in daylight. 
  • Sexual assault is always violent. 
  • Only women are vulnerable. 

There is merit in alerting the general public to any real and immediate threat of sexual assault but this article does not include details of the offender's appearance or tactics used to assault the women.

Therefore, it is unclear exactly who, or what, women should be on the look out for.

Advice like this is unlikely to have any actual impact on the safety of women. It may lead women to be unnecessarily fearful for their safety in public and to hold unrealistic beliefs about the nature of sexual assault.

For further information on misconceptions about sexual assault, see: Myths and Facts (PDF 46 KB)NSW Rape Crisis, What are the Myths and Facts About Sexual Assault? (PDF 64.5 KB) (SE CASA) and Unhelpful Myths About the Sexual Assault and Rape of Men (Living Well).

Choice of language

The choice of language used in reporting sexual assault is important.

Language styles or expression can help to change inaccurate ideas about sexual violence and work to counteract misperceptions of sexual violence in the broader community.

Labelling the offender

Labelling certain types of offenders as monsters or sex fiends presents sexual offenders as "out of the ordinary", freakish, compulsive, or predatory deviants. Reporting most often focuses on offences committed by a stranger, adding to the perception that sexual offenders are abnormal.

  • For 8 out of 10 survivors, the perpetrator is someone they know, most often family, friends or partners.
  • They are usually perceived by others - and present themselves - as ordinary, normal men.
  • Projecting a "nice guy" persona is often a key part of an offender's behaviour pattern.
  • It serves to gain the trust of the victim and her community, allows the perpetrator to isolate the victim, and to conceal or deny the offence.

This mode of offending behaviour does not fit with the idea of the monstrous offender, and many victim/survivors are not believed when they disclose their experience.

In some instances the victim/survivor does not immediately recognise their own experience as constituting sexual assault.

Known offenders often use a range of planned and practiced tactics (e.g., isolation and grooming) to gain the trust and access they need, and to avoid getting caught.

For more information on the way that trust is used in sexual offending see Insights into Sexual Assault Perpetration: Giving Voice to Victim/Survivors' Knowledge (AIFS Research report No. 18)

Recommendation

It is preferable to use the terms perpetrator, offender or alleged offender.

Cases of sexual assault with more than one perpetrator should be referred to as multiple perpetrator rape/sexual assault. Avoid using terms like "gang" or "pack" rape, as these obscure the responsibility and choice of each individual perpetrator.

Sexualised language

"Man faces child sex charges dating back 40 years'"

"Women warned of Sydney sex attacks"

Use of sex in place of sexual assault may be a form of shorthand, but it implies that these offences are primarily about sex as opposed to a form of violence where sexualised behaviour is used as the tool to commit a criminal offence.

  • The term sex implies a consensual encounter and does not explicitly identify the perpetrator's behaviour as constituting a form of assault or harmful behaviour.
  • The issue might be compounded when used in headlines, as the reader might only pick up on the word sex without going on to read the full report.

Recommendation

It is preferable to use the terms sexual assault, sexual violence, or other appropriate legal terminology rather than sex.

Normative sexual language

The specific events of a sexual assault can be made to sound normal and acceptable with the use of certain language.

  • Events characterised as part of a normal, consensual sexual interaction obscure the sexual assault for what it is - an assault - and reframe it as a romantic interaction.

Example

The man kidnapped his wife and drove her to a remote location where he made love to her and then strangled her.

  • Terms such as kissed, fondled or caressed give the impression of a loving or mutually enjoyable and consensual encounter. These words downplay the seriousness of the crime.

Example

Saying the offender indecently assaulted the victim/survivor more accurately reflects the actions.

  • Words such as relationship or affair to refer to non-consensual or illegal behaviour (such as child sexual abuse) hide the abusive and problematic nature of these behaviours.
  • Describing actions as being performed by the victim implies that the victim was a willing participant, and obscures the coercive or forced nature of these events.

Example

The victim performed oral sex, compared to the perpetrator forced oral sex. However, explicit sexualised detail should generally be avoided when possible.

Recommendation

Use language that conveys the non-consensual and coercive nature of sexual assault, as this presents a more accurate picture of sexual assault than normalising descriptors.

Passive versus active voice

Journalists often write in active voice. However when reporting on sexual violence there is a tendency to use the passive voice.

This may be to allow the writer to distance themself from the actions of the perpetrator or otherwise disturbing content, to downplay the responsibility and agency of the perpetrator, or as an attempt to produce an unbiased report. The use of passive voice can subtly reproduce misconceptions about sexual assault.

The use of the passive voice in reporting sexual violence:

  • places the victim in the foreground of the story, minimising the role of the perpetrator;
  • may encourage readers to place greater blame on the victim;
  • obscures the actions, choices and responsibility of the perpetrator; and
  • may encourage readers to view the perpetrator as less responsible for an assault and the victim as having received less harm.

Example

An article in The Age demonstrates the use of passive voice in reporting on sexual assault:

A woman has been repeatedly sexually assaulted after being kidnapped from Victoria and driven to New South Wales in the boot of a car. ("Kidnapped, raped and locked in a cupboard: Woman's 600km ordeal", The Age, July 5 2011)

The role of the perpetrator is secondary in the above sentence. An alternative way of phrasing this may be:

A man has been charged after he kidnapped a woman and repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

Recommendation

Whenever possible write in the active voice when reporting on sexual violence.

Sensitive use of details

In striving to disclose essential facts in a sexual assault case, reporting should avoid explicit, sexualised detail.

What constitutes appropriate detail is a question for the journalist's judgment. It might vary depending upon the individual circumstances of a case, and the information available from police or court hearings.

Appropriate details might include:

  • Explicit tactics or behaviours used by the perpetrator leading up to the assault.
  • This may include seemingly benign, normal actions such as purchasing the victim/survivor drinks or attempting to befriend her/him.
  • In hindsight this is often recognised as part of the grooming behaviour.
  • Emphasis should be placed on identifying the behaviour of the perpetrator.
  • Take care to avoid implying that the onus was on the victim/survivor to avoid being sexually assaulted. 
  • Explicit mention of whether the perpetrator was a partner, friend or workmate of the victim/survivor, or is otherwise known to them. 
  • This will avoid perpetuating the stereotype that only deviant, abnormal individuals commit sexual offences, which is a significant barrier to assaults being reported and believed.
  • Include tangible information such as descriptions of the physical appearance of a perpetrator.
  • Provide contact details for sexual assault counselling and support services at the end of all articles reporting on sexual assault.

Inappropriate details might include:

  • A focus on the behaviour of the victim/survivor, such as their clothing, actions preceding and following the attack, or alcohol consumption.
  • By including such information, blame is shifted onto the actions of the victim/survivor, rather than the behaviour of the perpetrator. This can cement misconceptions about sexual assault including that victim/survivors provoke their attacker or contribute to the violence.
  • Explicit detail of the sexual assault that might serve to sexualise or eroticise the assault.
  • An undue emphasis on the physical harm caused to the victim/survivor, reinforcing the idea sexual assault is inherently physically violent. The majority of sexual assault victim/survivors do not sustain extrainjury in the course of their assault.

Placing the story in context

It is important to ensure that the manner in which sexual assault is portrayed reflects a broad range of experiences, and not just atypical sexual assaults such as stranger rapes or cases that involve extreme violence.

Police and the courts are key sources of information on many news stories on sexual assault. However, these sources do not necessarily provide a full or contextual account of sexual assault.

The information used by police, or in a court case, serves a very specific purpose:

  • to determine if a criminal offence has occurred;
  • to gather evidence that is admissible in a court of law; and
  • to gather sufficient evidence to meet the burden of proof.

Cases taken to court must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Withdrawing a case, or not proceeding, does not equal innocence. It just means prosecutors did not have enough evidence to meet the very high threshold.

Only a small number of sexual assaults are reported to police or proceed to court, so information from these sources does not necessarily reflect what happens in most sexual assaults.

Recommendation

Avoid using the police or court data as the only source of information on sexual assault.

Recommendation

Ensure that reporting of sexual assault is reflective of, and proportionate to, a range of victim/survivors' experiences.

Avoid over-emphasizing stranger-rape and sexual assault where there is also considerable physical violence and consider running stories of, for example, intimate partner sexual violence instead.

Example

If the assault has occurred within the context of ongoing intimate-partner sexual violence, and/or domestic violence, report the broader context of the perpetrator's violent behaviour, as opposed to a one-off "out of character" attack.

Recommendation

Seek comment from individuals working within the sexual assault field in order to provide an informed, evidence-based opinion.

This may assist in reducing misconceptions of sexual assault, or at least provide a voice to counteract any unintended messages about sexual assault.

Example

This extract from a Ninemsn article on the Matthew Johns/NRL sexual assault incident provides a clear example of the problem of leaving inaccurate comments or quotes unchallenged:

She is saying she is still traumatized etcetera, well she wasn't for five days, or four days at least, after that affair. I can't work out what's happened: does it take five days for it to sink in? (quote from former work colleague of victim/survivor in Sex scandal woman "bragged about it", retrieved from <http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/813924/sex-scandal-woman-bragging-about-it> ninemsn, 15/05/09)

This uncontested opinion:

  • Discredits the victim/survivors account.
  • Reproduces the misconception that victim/survivors will immediately recognise their experience as a crime.
  • Reproduces the misconception that victim/survivors must always respond in an emotional or traumatised way.
  • Seeking comment from experts (such as a sexual assault counsellor or academic) may help to avoid reproducing these misconceptions by counteracting them with fact.
  • A sexual assault expert may have challenged the colleagues comments by explaining that it is common for victim/survivors to reframe their experience as "consensual" or to take some time to identify their experience as sexual assault. An immediate impact of trauma can be denial.

Interviewing victim/survivors

Interviewing victim/survivors provides a key source of accurate information on their experiences and allows their voices to be heard.

While the interview process can be a positive experience for victim/survivors, there is also potential for the interview to result in further emotional trauma as they re-live painful experiences.

The following guidelines will assist in ensuring that interviews with victim/survivors minimise the potential for further harm or emotional trauma:

  • Journalists have a legal and ethical responsibility to not report on a case if it may interfere with the court process.
  • The rights to privacy, anonymity, and confidentiality are of utmost importance when interviewing victim/survivors on their experiences of sexual assault.
  • This is particularly so for people discussing intimate partner abuse, who often fear the perpetrator will carry out revenge attacks, as a consequence of speaking out.
  • It is important that you let the victim/survivor know that if they decide to take a public stand that they may be subject to considerable media interest including being asked to comment on other sexual assaults and matters in relation to sexual assault.
  • The victim/survivor should be afforded as much control over the interview process as possible.
  • Allow the victim/survivor to select the time and location of the interview.
  • Consider the potential need for the victim/survivor to choose whether a female or male member of staff interviews them.
  • Allow the victim/survivor to refuse to answer questions if they don't feel comfortable doing so.
  • Allow the victim/survivor to cease the interview if they no longer feel comfortable continuing.
  • Let the discussion be guided by what the victim/survivor wishes to raise about their experiences, rather than attempting to impose or control the subject matter.
  • It might be worthwhile to foreshadow likely questions and focus of the interview with the victim/survivor prior to the interview.
  • The interview process can be - although not always - a traumatising experience for victim/survivors.
  • Be aware of the possibility for emotional distress to occur and have information and access to sexual assault counselling services available.
  • Be aware of the possibility that the victim/survivor may become distressed sometime after the interview. Ensure you leave them with follow-up support options.
  • At the beginning of the interview offer victim/survivors a formal debriefing session and access to free counselling by a sexual assault counselling service.
  • Provide victim/survivors with a copy of any interview transcripts and where practical give them the opportunity to read and provide feedback on any story based on their experience before it is published. This will ensure that their experience is represented fairly and accurately.
  • Let the victim/survivor know that family and friends who see the story may be able to recognise or identify them, even if the victim/survivor is anonymous in the report.
  • Let the victim/survivor know when the story will run and if any changes are made to the run date or the content of the story. It is very important to keep victim/survivors informed.
  • Let the victim/survivor know that people may try and contact them if they are named. Discuss the need for victim/survivors to remove or limit access to publically available information on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, particularly sites that list the victim/survivor’s phone number or other personal contact details. The journalist should do a Google search to identify what information about the victim/survivor is publically available before the story is published.
  • Explain to victim/survivors about the processes involved in producing and publishing a story, so that this is demystified for them as much as possible. This should also include information about whether and when they should expect the journalist to be in contact with them.

Privacy of victim/survivors

The identity of victim/survivors should not be disclosed without explicit permission from the victim/survivor.

Academic and government researchers are bound by ethical obligations, which may prevent them from disclosing the identity of participants in their research projects. Journalists should rely on their own sources to get in touch with victim/survivors.

Self-care for journalists

Interviewing victim/survivors can often result in emotional distress for the interviewer, an experience referred to as "vicarious trauma".

See "Ripple effects" of sexual assault (ACSSA Issues No. 7) for more information on vicarious trauma.

People involved in interviewing victim/survivors should also be provided with access to formal debriefing and counselling where required and may choose to discuss this with their employer.

The National 1800 737 732 Sexual Assault Domestic Violence telephone service can also provide debriefing when workplace solutions may not be immediately accessible.

Support services

Consider your readers

Contact details for sexual assault and counselling services should always be included when reporting on sexual assault.

The ACSSA website provides a comprehensive list of support service contact details.

Many of your readers might have experienced sexual violence given the incidence of sexual assault in the community:

  • One in five women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.
  • One in 20 men have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.
  • One in four women have experienced sexual abuse as children.
  • One in six men have experienced sexual abuse as children.

It can be beneficial for victim/survivors to disclose, and receive support for, their experience of sexual assault. They have the right to be provided with a safe and supportive environment that allows them to do so:

  • Research indicates that up to 85% of sexual assaults go unreported to police.
  • Victim/survivors also face difficulties in disclosing sexual assault to friends and family members, especially when the offender is a friend or family member.

Including details for sexual assault services lets victim/survivors know that assistance is available if they choose to seek help.

Solution

Avoid presentinginformation on sexual violence in a way that is likely to upset or re-traumatise victims/survivors of sexual assault.

Solution

Provide contact details for support and counselling services when reporting on sexual assault.

Online content

Online and interactive media forums are often seen as promoting the uninhibited expression of beliefs and opinions.

However the anonymous nature of online discussion may pose issues when sexual assault is being discussed.

Disclosing sexual assault online

Some victim/survivors may use online forums as a mechanism for disclosing instances of sexual assault.

Example

I was a victim of partner rape - one of my children were conceived due to this. This same man was the perpetrator of several years of DV against me also - eventually I got away - to a certain degree (physically although the mental scars are still there). Another of his partners reported him raping her about 3 years ago - the police did nothing. Who knows if he is still doing this to his now partner & who ever else in between. Some rats have more than nine lives.

Posted by: Kellie of North East VIC 4:40pm May 15, 2009 Comment 52 of 52 ("Most police don't want rape by partner to be reported", Herald Sun, 15 May 2009)

Solution

Monitor posts to online sites closely. Respond quickly with details of sexual assault counselling services.

Perpetuating violence-supportive attitudes

Comments made by readers often perpetuate sexual assault stereotypes and may add little to the discussion about the story.

Example

Unfortunately, many malicious women falsely accuse men of raping them which makes it all the more harder for legitimate cases to be processed and perpetrators convicted. Presently, such malicious women are not punished for their false accusations. To curb this serious problem, which sees lives destroyed, such women should be jailed. Then legitimate cases will be taken more seriously.

Posted by: Tom 1:22pm July 15, 2008 Comment 43 of 52 (Obtained from the Herald Sun website, http://www.news.com.au/news/police-dont-want-partner-rape-reported/story-fna7dq6e-1111116918367.html)

Problem

This comment posted by Tom perpetuates the stereotype that women lie about sexual assault, reinforcing the popular idea that "scorned" women use rape allegations as a form of revenge.

Research indicates that:

  • Rates of "false" reports of rape and sexual assault are similar to those of other crimes and are far from being a "serious problem".
  • Sexual assault is acknowledged as being widely under-reported to police and other authorities.

Contrary to Tom's view, victim/survivors are overwhelmingly more likely not to report sexual assault than they are to make false accusations.

Allowing unfounded and incorrect comments to be posted without rebuttal is unhelpful and offensive to victim/survivors and continues to reinforce misconceptions while influencing others' opinions.

It is worth considering and balancing the need for public discussion on a particular event or issue with the appropriateness of allowing commentary for that story (e.g., sensitive stories, particularly in relation to sexual assault, should not be open for uncensored public commentary).

Solution

  • Monitor and moderate public discussion of sexual assault. There are many misconceptions about sexual assault that impact on victim/survivors and make it difficult for them to seek help in their recovery and to report the crime they have experienced
  • Monitor and remove posts outlining offensive and inaccurate views of victim/survivors, and sexual offences. Counteracting misinformation with accurate, evidence-based information from experts is also a useful action.
  • Readers' reporting of offensive comments is not a sufficient mechanism for monitoring posts.

Further resources

The key code of ethics for Australian media - the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance code of ethics - does not refer specifically to reporting on sexual assault. However, it does place emphasis on accurate, honest, fair and balanced reporting.

In relation to sexual assault, accurate reporting should consider:

  • the facts of an individual case or event - such as the identity of a perpetrator, or the location and date of an offence; and
  • information that reflects the circumstances and contexts in which sexual assault occurs.

Useful resources and webpages

Academic references

These documents have been drawn upon in creating this Media Backgrounder.

  • Access Economics. (2004). The cost of domestic violence to the Australian economy: Part 1 & 2.Canberra: FaHCSIA, Office for the Status of Women.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2006). 2005 Personal Safety Survey Australia. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Bavelas, J., & Coates, L. (2001). Is it sex or assault? Erotic versus violent language in sexual assault trial judgments. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 10(1), 29-40.
  • Bohner, G. (2001). Writing about rape: Use of the passive voice and other distancing text features as an expression of perceived responsibility of the victim. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 515-529.
  • Clark, H., & Quadara, A. (2010). Insights into sexual assault perpetration: Giving voice to victim/survivors' knowledge (Research Report No.18). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Coates, L., & Wade, A. (2007). Language and violence: Analysis of four discursive operations. Journal of Family Violence, 22, 511-522.
  • Edwards, R. (2003). Information paper: Sexual assault information development framework (Cat no. 4518.0). Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Frazer, A. K., & Miller, M. D. (2009). Double standards in sentence structure: Passive voice in narratives describing domestic violence. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 28(1), 62-71.
  • Goddard, C., & Liddell, M. (1993). Child abuse and the media: Victoria introduces mandatory reporting after an intensive media campaign. Children Australia, 18(3), 23-27.
  • Heath, M. (2005). The law and sexual offences against adults in Australia (Issues No. 4). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Henley, M. N., Miller, M., & Beazley, J. A. (1995). Syntax, semantics, and sexual violence: Agency and the passive voice. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 14(1-2) 60-84.
  • Ho, S. S., & McLeod, D. M. (2008). Social-psychological influences on opinion expression in face-to-face and computer-mediated communication. Communication Research, 35(2), 190-207.
  • King, R. (2009). Justice or judgement? Germany: Lambert Publishing.
  • Klettke, B., & Simonis, S. (2011). Attitudes regarding the perceived culpability of adolescent and adult victims of sexual assault. ACSSA Aware, 26, 7-12.
  • Lee, E. J., & Jang, Y. J. (2010). What do others' reactions to news on Internet portal sites tell us? Effects of presentation format and readers' need for cognition on reality perception. Communication Research, 37(6), 825-846.
  • Lievore, D. (2003). Non-reporting and hidden recording of sexual assault: An international literature review. Canberra:Australian Institute of Criminology.
  • Livingwell. (2010a). Unhelpful myths about the sexual assault and rape of men. Retrieved from <http://www.livingwell.org.au/information/unhelpful-myths-about-the-sexual-assault-and-rape-of-men//>.
  • Livingwell. (2010b). Statistics. Retrieved from <http://www.livingwell.org.au/information/statistics/>
  • Marhia, N. (2008). Just representation? Press reporting and the reality of rape. The Lilith Project.
  • Melican, D. B., & Dixon, T. L. (2008). News on the net: Credibility, selective exposure, and racial prejudice. Communication Research, 35(2), 151-168.
  • Morrison, Z. (2007). "Feeling heavy": Vicarious trauma and other issues facing those who work in the sexual assault field (ACSSA Wrap No.4). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Morrison, Z., Quadara, A., & Boyd, C. (2007). "Ripple effects" of sexual assault (ACSSA Issues No.7). Melbourne: Australian Institute for Family Studies.
  • Penelope, J. (1990). Speaking freely: Unlearning the lies of the fathers' tongues. New York: Pergamon Press.
  • Powell, A. (2011). Review of bystander approaches in support of preventing violence against women: Preventing violence against women by increasing participation in respectful relationships. Melbourne: Vic Health.
  • Sleath, E., & Bull, R. (2010). Male rape victim and perpetrator blaming. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25(6), 969-988.
  • VicHealth. (2006). Two steps forward, one step back: Community attitudes to violence against women. Progress and challenges in creating safe and healthy environments for Victorian women. A summary of findings. Melbourne: VicHealth.
  • VicHealth. (2007). Preventing violence before it occurs: A framework and background paper to guide the primary prevention of violence against women in Victoria. Melbourne: VicHealth.
  • VicHealth. (2009). National Survey on Community Attitudes to Violence Against Women 2009. Changing cultures, changing attitudes - preventing violence against women: A summary of findings. Melbourne: VicHealth.