Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Oakland University
- Moving beyond the conventional approach for conducting research interviews with trauma survivors, there is great need for researchers to establish a relationship with their participants that empowers them, rather than just protects them.
- There are several interviewing techniques designed to empower participants who are abused women and/or survivors of trauma.
In the essay, “Methodological and Ethical Issues in Feminist Research with Abused Women: Reflections on Participants’ Vulnerability and Empowerment,” Burgess-Proctor examined the complicated issues involved in conducting feminist interviews with abused women and other trauma survivors. Conventional interview frameworks identify a power differential between researchers and participants and seek to avoid exploiting or harming human subjects. However, these conventional approaches diverge in their strategies, and there is debate around their level of efficacy. Burgess-Proctor identified several feminist-informed strategies for conducting interviews with abused women and other trauma survivors, designed to empower, rather than just protect, the participants. These interviewing strategies include: asking participants to select their own pseudonym, offering participants documentation of their research involvement, expressing and reciprocating emotion with participants, and concluding interviews by emphasizing participants’ strength and insight. Given the importance that interview participants’ often place on sharing their experiences in order to help other women, there is a great need for researchers to ensure that their relationships with their participants move from protection to empowerment.