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Vicarious trauma and emotional labour in researching child sexual abuse and child protection: A postdoctoral reflection


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Guerzoni, MA 2020 , 'Vicarious trauma and emotional labour in researching child sexual abuse and child protection: A postdoctoral reflection' , Methodological Innovations , pp. 1-8 , doi: 10.1177/2059799120926342.

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Criminology almost inevitably involves the study of sensitive and sorrowful research topics. Consequently, criminologists fallvictim to the inherent risks of exposure to vicarious trauma, requiring many to practice emotional labour in the field, in thelecture hall, and perhaps, even along the corridors of the university campus itself. This article offers a reflective account of theexperiences of vicarious trauma and the self-imposed, protective practice of emotional labour within doctoral research onchild protection initiatives within a religious institution. It explores my experience of self-regulating my emotions in responseto the reading of disturbing content, and of the active filtering of points of conversation when asked about my researchwithin professional, familial and social settings, to prevent disturbing the emotions of others. The article encourages potentialdoctoral students to consider how they might prepare for themselves emotionally, socially and physically, for their inevitableencounter with difficult content, prior to the commencement of candidature, thereby increasing their resilience in facing thedifficult components of a doctoral degree tasked with exploring content of a bleak and emotionally unnerving nature.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Guerzoni, MA
Keywords: emotional labour, criminology, child sexual abuse, vicarious trauma, sensitive research
Journal or Publication Title: Methodological Innovations
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN: 2059-7991
DOI / ID Number: 10.1177/2059799120926342
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 The Author. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

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