Representations of Violence, Representations as Violence: When the News Reports on Homicides of Disabled People


Ableist necropolitics can be seen no more starkly than in news portrayals of the murders of disabled people by family or caregivers. When such murders are reported in the news, disabled people as full subjects fade away, portrayed as objects of care and suffering; their murders are routinely presented as an understandable if tragic response by ‘overwhelmed’ carers. This article examines Australian news reporting on four cases of family murder–suicide involving disabled victims to explore news framings of violence as violence. We situate these representations within a spectrum of connected and overlapping ableist violence and conceptualise the harms they can produce and sanction. We argue that news portrayals of homicides involving disabled victims not only are frequently ableist and legitimising but also constitute a form of ableist epistemic violence that scaffolds ontological, structural and direct violence against disabled people.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2023-09-01
Pages:64 to 76
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How to Cite
Buiten, D. and Cresciani, R. (2023) “Representations of Violence, Representations as Violence: When the News Reports on Homicides of Disabled People”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 12(3), pp. 64-76. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2720.

Author Biographies

University of Notre Dame Australia; University of Johannesburg

Denise is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Justice at University of Notre Dame Australia and a Senior Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg. Her research focuses on the contested and evolving ways feminism, gender and gendered violence are understood in media and public debates. These interests are at the heart of her recent book, Familicide, Gender and the Media (2022) (Springer), which examines how complex forms of gendered violence are made sense of and represented.

The University of Melbourne

Raffaella is a PhD candidate in criminology and a Sessional Coordinator (Criminology) at the University of Melbourne. Her research centres on violence against disabled people in the home. Her work utilises new materialism and aims to expand what is considered ‘violence’ to better account for the legal, everyday, seemingly ‘mundane’ forms of harm perpetrated against disabled people. Raffaella has been involved in research projects concerned with the representation of violence against disabled people, disabled people’s experiences utilising complaint mechanisms to report violence, and the impacts of the COVID pandemic on disabled people in Indonesia.