Media Representations of Domestic Violence

Hosted by the Department of Media and Communications

Thai Theatre, New Academic Building, WC2A 3LJ


Penny East

Penny East

Survivor and Head of Communication, SafeLives

Nathalie McDermott

Nathalie McDermott

Founder and Chief Executive, On Road Media

Zing Tsjeng

Zing Tsjeng

UK Editor of Broadly at Vice Media


Dr. Sadie Wearing

Dr. Sadie Wearing

Department of Gender Studies

How is domestic violence portrayed in the mainstream media?  Is it represented as a crime primarily affecting the disenfranchised – for example, the working classes or ethnic communities?  How does this representation create a power dynamic and the potential for exploitation between media practitioners and survivors with lived experience of domestic violence? 

These and other important questions will be discussed at this collaborative event with the Department of Media and Communications and the Department of Gender Studies at LSE, in association with On Road Media and Clear Lines. Our speakers will be: Penny East (Survivor and Head of Communications, SafeLives), Nathalie McDermott (Founder, On Road Media), and Zing Tsjeng (Broadly Editor, Vice Media).  Dr. Sadie Wearing from the Dept of Gender Studies will chair.  Speaker bios provided below.

This series of events is dedicated to exploring how the media represents different forms of gender-based violence, and the kind of ‘voice’ given to survivors.  They are also designed to provide a fruitful dialogue between those with lived experience, those who represent that experience, and those who study these media representations. Concepts explored will include voice, audience, the public sphere, agency, and recovery from trauma. 

The event will be followed by a reception, providing a space for survivors, frontline workers, journalists, advocates, academics, and the public to build useful connections.  This event is free and open to the public.  Attendance is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so do arrive early to ensure yourself a seat. 

Clear Lines is the UK’s first-ever festival dedicated to addressing sexual assault, abuse, and consent through the arts and discussion. Entirely volunteer-run and grassroots, it has since encompassed two multi-day festivals in 2015 and 2017, and a series of regular events in London.

This series is made possible by the Dept of Media and Communications’ KEI funding.

Speaker Biographies

Penny East, Survivor and Head of Communication, SafeLives

Penny is Head of Communication at SafeLives, a national domestic abuse charity. Penny was motivated to join SafeLives after experiencing an abusive and controlling relationship in her twenties. She now works to raise awareness of the issue but also the challenges faced by survivors in being heard, understood and supported. She works with the media on a regular basis, on survivor stories, data and the urgent need to change the public conversation around abuse.

Penny was a Fellow on the Clore Social Leadership Programme 2017 and specialised in gender equality. She is a keen writer and recently wrote about her experience for the New Statesman. Before joining SafeLives, she worked for charities such as Comic Relief. 

Nathalie McDermott, Founder and Chief Executive, On Road Media

Nathalie is a former broadcast journalist, and worked at the BBC, Guardian and Media for Development where she set up the Prison Radio Outreach Project in Wandsworth Prison.

In 2008 she founded On Road Media, a charity that improves media coverage of communities that are misrepresented and misunderstood. They connect journalists with people with lived experience of social issues to inspire new storylines in soaps, TV dramas, factual and comedy, as well as improving news coverage. They support activists to do this work safely and with agency, including practising self-care, building confidence through peer support, and learning strategic communication techniques when choosing which parts of a personal story to tell, when and why for maximum impact.

Nathalie oversees Angles: A Different Take on Sexual and Domestic Abuse (New Radicals 2018 winner) and award-winning All About Trans, which have both leveraged over £6 million in positive British programming in the media.

Zing Tsjeng, UK Editor of Broadly at Vice Media

Zing Tsjeng is the UK editor of Broadly, VICE’s channel for millennial women. She has written about feminism, arts and culture, politics, race and LGBTQ identity for publications like the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Dazed, i-D magazine and The Debrief. Zing is also a presenter for VICE, and her most recent documentary (Britain First vs Antifascists vs Police) attracted 1.5 million views on Facebook.

She is a keen speaker and panelist, and has appeared on BBC Woman’s Hour and moderated live events at the BFI, SXSW, Web Summit and HowTheLightGetsIn festival. In 2017 she was nominated for the Pride Power List, which celebrates the achievements of influential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Zing is the author of the feminist series, Forgotten Women, published by Octopus. Most recently Broadly's team launched the #UnfollowMe anti-stalking campaign in partnership with Paladin Charity highlighting the need to change our approach to stalking and update the law. Follow Zing on Twitter.

Chair: Dr. Sadie Wearing, Dept of Gender Studies 

Sadie Wearing is Associate Professor in gender theory, culture and media at the LSE.  Her research interests are in gender and cultural production and in feminist and gender theory, with a specific focus on aging, memory and temporality.  She has published extensively on these themes in relation to both popular culture (film and television) and literature in both contemporary and historical contexts.  She is the author with Niall Richardson of Gender in the Media (Palgrave, 2014) and the co –editor of The Sage Handbook of Feminist Theory (Sage, 2014).  She is a member of the editorial collective for Feminist Review.  Her current research project is a major AHRC grant supported collaboration with Lizzie Thynne (University of Sussex) and Yvonne Tasker (University of Leeds) on the British Filmmaker and Campaigner Jill Craigie.

From time to time there are changes to event details so we strongly recommend checking back on this listing on the day of the event if you plan to attend.