Attending to vulnerability in sexual violence research

Rebecca Helman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Within research on sexual violence, womxn who have been raped are positioned as “vulnerable”participants, while researchers tend to occupy positions of “invulnerability”. Drawing on vulnerable moments from a research project which explored womxn’s experiences of rape in South Africa, this paper proposes a (more) vulnerable engagement with narratives of rape. Through attending to how vulnerability is implicated in issues of silence and agency, shame, and my own failures to witness the experiences of my participants with care, I explore the epistemic and ethical possibilities of an affective approach to researching rape. This approach asks us, as researchers, to attend to the moments during our research in which we are affected, moved and disrupted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalFeminism and Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • vulnerability
  • rape
  • sexual violence
  • shame
  • South Africa
  • reflexivity


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