"I forgive him. It wasn't easy for him": social representations of perpetrators of intimate partner violence in the Western Cape province

SOURCE: Critical Studies in Media Communication
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): D.Isaacs, J.Mthembu
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Capabilities (HSC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10494

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Over the last two decades, international scholars have studied representations of intimate partner violence against women in news media reports. Although these studies contributed to current understandings of how such violence is constructed in the media, few studies have specifically examined how perpetrators are represented in newspaper reports. The present study draws on social representations theory to interrogate how perpetrators of IPV are constructed in the print news media of the Western Cape Province. An inductive thematic analysis was conducted on 21 articles reporting men's perpetration of violence against their female partners between the periods of September 2012 and February 2013. The findings revealed perpetrators were mainly represented as pathological, victims of an unjust justice system and characters readers could possibly sympathize with, which obscured their responsibility for the act(s) of violence. The article discusses implications of these representations in the context of violence against women in South Africa and how they resonate with current research internationally.