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Posted on Jan 12, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU – Attorney General Holly T. Shikada and the Hawaii Sexual Assault Response and Training (HSART) Program Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) today announced the release of a “Media Guide for Reporting on Sexual Violence.”

The purpose of the Media Guide is to encourage media professionals to utilize a trauma-informed approach when reporting about sexual violence. Trauma informed is the ability to understand how trauma affects individuals, their families, and the community. Reporting on sexual assault in a sensitive manner is of the utmost importance when considering the impacts on victims and survivors. The Media Guide provides information on key considerations when reporting on sexual violence and interviewing victims; defines sexual assault terms, including victim blaming; provides suggested language to use; describes the impact of rape myths; and provides additional resources for the media to access to ensure informed, innovative, and ethical news reporting when reporting on sexual violence.

“The media informs, amplifies, and shapes cultural norms and understanding of sexual violence by the public,” Attorney General Shikada said. “I recommend that media professionals utilize the Media Guide to reduce biases and myths of sexual violence that often impact the reporting of sexual assault.”

Lynn Costales Matsuoka, Associate Director, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, The Sex Abuse Treatment Center said: “The media guide is a welcome and important tool for journalists when reporting on sexual assault cases. Sexual assaults have long been considered an underreported crime, and how the media handles a news report can, and often does, directly impact whether victims will come forward or remain silent about their assault. We applaud the work it has taken to draft the media guide with the hopes of educating the media on the dynamics of sexual violence, and what it looks, and feels like, through the lens of a victim. As a community, protecting and respecting sexual assault victims is a shared responsibility that must be balanced with the need for public information.”

Dani Riggs, Former Clinical Director, Child and Family Service, Maui Sex Assault Center said: “The press has an important role and responsibility in reporting sexual assault cases. Information can heal or harm depending on how it is relayed. Ultimately, they are not reporting about a case but about an individual who has been violently and intimately traumatized and the media’s reporting needs to reflect that reality. If reporting happens in this way it informs the pubic and does not further traumatize the victim. Victims of sexual assault respond in ways that may seem unusual to the public and to the press, but the victims’ responses are in fact normal and natural human responses to serious trauma.”

The Media Guide was developed by HSART members to encourage reporting on sexual violence in a trauma-informed way. The purpose of HSART is to address the manner in which sexual assault evidence collection kits are processed and tracked, to ensure that victims of sexual assault are informed of their rights, and to strengthen and improve Hawaii’s response to sexual assault.

A copy of the guide is available HERE.

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For more information, contact:

Gary Yamashiroya

Special Assistant to the Attorney General

(808) 586-1284

Email: [email protected]


Twitter: @ATGHIgov