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Resources on Vicarious Traumatisation


Scholars, counselors, and advocates who work on difficult issues like violence, abuse, and pornography may experience vicarious traumatisation (also referred to as secondary trauma or compassion fatigue) from exposure to disturbing stories and images. There are a lot of good resources available with information and resources for self-care that should be made available to research assistants and staff who will be exposed to this kind of material.


Resources from the 2022 American Society of Criminology Roundtable

Contributors: Katherine Bright, Bethany Backes, Molly Dragiewicz Jane Palmer, Jennifer Paruk, Ellen Van Damme

Recommended readings

  • Berry, M. J., Chávez Argüelles, C., Cordis, S., Ihmoud, S., & Velásquez Estrada, E. (2017). Toward a Fugitive Anthropology: Gender, Race, and Violence in the Field. Cultural anthropology, 32(4), 537-565. doi:10.14506/ca32.4.05

  • Becker-Blease, K. A., & Freyd, J. J. (2006). Research participants telling the truth about their lives: The ethics of asking and not asking about abuse. American Psychologist, 61(3), 218–226.

  • Coles, J., Astbury, J., Dartnall, E., & Limjerwala, S. (2014). A qualitative exploration of researcher trauma and researchers’ responses to investigating sexual violence. Violence Against Women, 20(1), 95–117.

  • Campbell, R. (2001). Emotionally involved: The impact of researching rape. Routledge.

  • Campbell, R., Adams, A. E., Wasco, S. M., Ahrens, C. E., & Sefl, T. (2009). Training interviewers for research on sexual violence: A qualitative study of rape survivors’ recommendations for interview practice. Violence Against Women, 15(5), 595–617.

  • Campbell, R., Adams, A. E., Wasco, S. S., Ahrens, C. E., & Sefl, T. (2010). “What has it been like for you to talk with me today?”: The impact of participating in interview research on rape survivors. Violence Against Women, 16(1), 60–83.

  • Cromer, L. D., Freyd, J. J., Binder, A. K., DePrince, A. P., & Becker-Blease, K. (2006). What’s the risk in asking? Participant reaction to trauma history questions compared with response to other personal questions. Ethics & Behavior, 16(4), 347–362.

  • DePrince, A. P., & Chu, A. (2008). Perceived benefits in trauma research: Examining methodological and individual difference factors in responses to research participation. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 3(1), 35–47.

  • Deprince, A. P., & Freyd, J. J. (2006). Costs and benefits of being asked about trauma history. Journal of Trauma Practice, 3(4), 23–35.

  • Dickson-Swift, V., James, E. L., Kippen, S., & Liamputtong, P. (2007). Doing sensitive research: What challenges do qualitative researchers face? Qualitative Research, 7(3), 327–353.

  • Downes, J., Kelly, L., & Westmarland, N. (2014). Ethics in violence and abuse research: A positive empowerment approach. Sociological Research Online, 19(1), 1-13.

  • Easterday, L., Papademas, D., Schorr, L., & Valentine, C. (1977). The Making of a Female Researcher: Role Problems in Field Work. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 6(3), 333-348. doi:10.1177/089124167700600305

  • Edwards, V. J., Dube, S. R., Felitti, V. J., & Anda, R. F. (2007). It’s ok to ask about past abuse. The American Psychologist, 62(4), 327–328; discussion 330-332.

  • Gregory, A. C., Williamson, E., & Feder, G. (2017). The impact on informal supporters of domestic violence survivors: A systematic literature review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 18(5), 562–580., L. T., Goh, D. S., Andrews, M. B., Gilbert, J., Praver, F., & Stelzer, D. N. (2000). Positive reaction to disclosure and recovery from child sexual abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 9(1), 29–51.

  • Haggerty, K. D. (2004). Ethics creep: Governing social science research in the name of ethics. Qualitative Sociology, 27(4), 391–414.

  • Hume, M. (2007). Unpicking the threads: Emotion as central to the theory and practice of researching violence. Women's Studies International Forum, 30(2), 147-157. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2007.01.002

  • Hume, M. (2007). '(Young) Men With Big Guns': Reflexive Encounters with Violence and Youth in El Salvador. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 26(4), 480-496.

  • Jaffe, A. E., DiLillo, D., Hoffman, L., Haikalis, M., & Dykstra, R. E. (2015). Does it hurt to ask? A meta-analysis of participant reactions to trauma research. Clinical Psychology Review, 40, 40–56.

  • Kloß, S. T. (2017). Sexual(ized) harassment and ethnographic fieldwork: A silenced aspect of social research. Ethnography, 18(3), 396-414. doi:10.1177/1466138116641958

  • Loughran, T., & Mannay, D. (Eds.). (2018). Emotion and the Researcher: Sites, Subjectivities, and Relationships: Emerald Publishing Limited.

  • Markowitz, A. (2019). The Better to Break and Bleed With: Research, Violence, and Trauma. Geopolitics, 1-24. doi:10.1080/14650045.2019.1612880

  • Morris, A., Hegarty, K., & Humphreys, C. (2012). Ethical and safe: Research with children about domestic violence. Research Ethics, 8(2), 125–139.

  • Mulla, S., & Hlavka, H. (2011). Gendered violence and the ethics of social science research. Violence Against Women, 17(12), 1509–1520.

  • Mügge, L. M. (2013). Sexually harassed by gatekeepers: reflections on fieldwork in Surinam and Turkey. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 16(6), 541-546. doi:10.1080/13645579.2013.823279

  • Nikischer, A. (2019). Vicarious trauma inside the academe: Understanding the impact of teaching, researching and writing violence. Higher Education, 77, 905–916.

  • Pritchard, E. (2019). Female researcher safety: the difficulties of recruiting participants at conventions for people with dwarfism. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 22(5), 503-515. 

  • Robinson, R. A., & Ryder, J. A. (2014). "Sometimes One Does That With Blinders On": Revisioning Care for Violent Girls. Women & Criminal Justice, 24(3), 193-208. doi:10.1080/08974454.2014.909761

  • Ross, K. (2014). “No Sir, She Was Not a Fool in the Field”: Gendered Risks and Sexual Violence in Immersed Cross-Cultural Fieldwork. The Professional geographer, 67(2), 180-186. doi:10.1080/00330124.2014.907705

  • Sampson, H., Bloor, M., & Fincham, B. (2008). A price worth paying?: Considering the “cost” of reflexive research methods and the influence of feminist ways of “doing.” Sociology, 42(5), 919–933.

  • Schwartz, M.D. (Ed.). (1997). Researching sexual violence against women. Sage.

  • Schneider, L. T. (2020). Sexual violence during research: How the unpredictability of fieldwork and the right to risk collide with academic bureaucracy and expectations. Critique of Anthropology, 40(2), 173-193. doi:10.1177/0308275X20917272

  • Schneider, M., Lord, E., & Wilczak, J. (2020). We, too: contending with the sexual politics of fieldwork in China. Gender, Place & Culture, 1-22. doi:10.1080/0966369X.2020.1781793

  • Skinner, T., Hester, M., & Malos, E. (2013). Methodology, feminism and gender violence. In T. Skinner, M. Hester, & E. Malos (Eds.), Researching gender violence (pp. 1–22). Routledge.

  • Theidon, K. (2014). “How was your trip?” Self-care for researchers working and writing on violence. Retrieved from

  • Ullman, S. E. (2002). Social reactions to child sexual abuse disclosures: A critical review. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 12(1), 89–121.

  • Ullman, S. E., & Filipas, H. H. (2005). Gender differences in social reactions to abuse disclosures, post-abuse coping, and PTSD of child sexual abuse survivors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 29(7), 767–782.

  • Warden, T. (2013). Feet of clay: confronting emotional challenges in ethnographic experience. Journal of Organizational Ethnography, 2(2), 150-172. doi:10.1108/JOE-09-2012-0037

  • Whitt-Woosley, A., & Sprang, G. (2018). Secondary traumatic stress in social science researchers of trauma-exposed populations. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 27(5), 475–486.

  • Williamson, E., Gregory, A., Abrahams, H., Aghtaie, N., Walker, S.-J., & Hester, M. (2020). Secondary Trauma: Emotional Safety in Sensitive Research. Journal of Academic Ethics, 18(1), 55–70.

  • Woon, C. Y. (2013). For ‘emotional fieldwork’ in critical geopolitical research on violence and terrorism. Political Geography, 33(1), 31-41. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.11.00



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