We investigate the power of the media to reinforce or transform public opinion about violence against women. We ask if media portrayals of the issue are essentially conservative messages communicated through a veneer of ‘objectivity’ using simplistic narratives. Our literature review shows that the media frames family violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment using a recurrent theme of mutuality of responsibility for the violence. This contradicts the feminist understanding of these harms as gendered and reflective of male dominance, sexism and misogyny. Such narratives could impede and delay feminist aims of protecting women from violence and improving access to justice. While the internet and social media enable activists and others to challenge myths and stereotypes, they also create new forums for the perpetuation of violence against women. Continuing engagement with the media is necessary to ensure community understanding of violence against women and the harm that media portrayals may cause.