Secondary Trauma and Qualitative Research: Trauma Sensitivity in Research on Sexualized Violence


  • Rebecca Gulowski FrauenTherapieZentrum – FTZ München e.V.



compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, compassion satisfaction, sexualized violence, secondary traumatization, sensitive research, vulnerability, qualitative interviews, epistemology, countertransference


In this article, I address secondary traumatization in the field of qualitative research on sexualized violence. Although traumatization is inevitable in this kind of research, little attention is paid to its role in qualitative research in German-speaking countries, in contrast to international research. Based on this assumption, I introduce the approaches of psychotraumatology and its concepts of secondary traumatization, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma. Following Georg SIMMEL, Max WEBER, Georges DEVEREUX, and the feminist tradition, I connect these with reflections on the epistemological possibilities of the vulnerability of the researcher. I argue that in trauma-sensitive qualitative research, especially in the field of sensitive topics (e.g., violence, abuse, or neglect), the focus should be on the researcher's burdens and, above all, on the researcher's epistemological resources.


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Author Biography

Rebecca Gulowski, FrauenTherapieZentrum – FTZ München e.V.

Rebecca GULOWSKI ist Soziologin, Konflikt- und Gewaltforscherin sowie Traumafachberaterin (DeGPT) und systemische (Trauma-) Therapeutin. Sie arbeitet als Anti-Gewalt- und Kompetenztrainerin und psychosoziale Beraterin mit Frauen, die Gewalt ausüben. Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen in den Bereichen Konflikt- und Gewaltsoziologie, sexualisierte Gewalt, Partnerschaftsgewalt, (weibliche) Täterschaft, Opferschaft und Bystander sowie qualitative Methoden der Sozialforschung.



How to Cite

Gulowski, R. (2022). Secondary Trauma and Qualitative Research: Trauma Sensitivity in Research on Sexualized Violence. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 23(1).



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