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Recording violence

When documenting domestic and family violence, use language that describes the power imbalance between father and mother, and accurately portrays the nature of the abuse. This is what we mean when we talk about ‘unilateral’ language (Paul did … ) as opposed to ‘mutualising’ language (They did … ).

Make sure you document that he was responsible for the violence. For example: ‘Paul assaulted Sally’. Not: ‘Sally was assaulted’.

Unilateral versus mutualised violence

When writing or speaking about violence, use unilateral words that clearly express who is doing what and how. Avoid the mutualising language that makes women seem complicit in the abuse.

Mutualising language Unilateral language
Kissing Forced his mouth on hers.
Abusive or violent relationship, fight, conflict, argument, altercation Assault, beating, attack.
Sex, intercourse Forced vaginal penetration, raped, sexually assaulted.


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