Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Media Studies


Sasha Torres


In the early 1970s, feminists began to raise awareness about intimate partner violence (IPV), transforming it from a private family matter into a social problem. Popular media representations of IPV, which exposed the extent and severity of the problem, played a key role in this transition. Surprisingly, however, there has been very little research on media representations of IPV or intimate partner homicide (IPH). This thesis conducts a critical discourse analysis on recent media representations of abused women who kill their abusive partners in law procedural dramas, a genre of television that both commands a wide prime-time audience and impacts viewers’ understanding of the legal system. I argue that the common representational tropes used in these episodes actively harm abused women by constructing only abuse narratives that reinforce misogynistic tropes as valid and by suggesting that the legal system meets abused women’s needs.