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Feminist dilemmas in data analysis: researching the use of creative writing by women survivors of sexual abuse

Green Lister, Pam (2003) Feminist dilemmas in data analysis: researching the use of creative writing by women survivors of sexual abuse. Qualitative Social Work, 2 (1). pp. 45-60. ISSN 1473-3250

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Abstract

In this article, I seek to explore some of the theoretical and political dilemmas I faced as a feminist qualitative researcher in the field of child sexual abuse. The article draws on my research into the use of creative writing by women survivors of sexual abuse. I begin my article with a discussion of how I entered the research process as a feminist researcher. I consider how my choice of research topic raised a number of ethical issues. I then engage in a discussion of the challenges of data analysis for feminist researchers. In order to illustrate the challenges I faced in my research, I focus on how women survivors use writing to explore memory. Theoretical perspectives on memory and women survivors of sexual abuse are explored, before I summarize my findings in this area. In analysing women’s use of writing to explore memory, I outline the interpretive tensions I faced at a range of levels of analysis. I demonstrate how I tried to ensure that women survivors’ voices were privileged, while I also engaged in the theoretical and political debates in the field. I conclude that feminist researchers need to develop epistemologies that can meet the complexity of the world as experienced and understood by our research subjects.