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College student subjects read a fictitious newspaper report about a wife-battering incident. After reading the scenario, subjects completed a series of rating scales about attributes of the two protagonists and the incident in general. Results showed that if the victim had verbally provoked the abuser, male subjects, and sometimes females as well, discounted the seriousness of the incident in numerous ways. An explicit description of the injuries to the victim led subjects to evaluate the incident more seriously. Some higher-order interactions of the race of the assailant with other factors reflected a subtle and complex racism from the white subjects. Results were interpreted in light of theory in social psychology, consciousness raising about battering, and the behavioral and attitudinal implications for reporting such incidents in the media.