A Qualitative Mixed-Methods Approach to Understanding Silence and Voices of Wartime Sexual Violence Survivors

Abstract

This case shows how to apply a qualitative mixed-method approach to researching a vulnerable population, such as survivors of wartime sexual violence. In 2014, I embarked on a study of why survivors of the Kosovo War (1998–1999) have at times spoken about their experience, and at other times remained silent. The result of this work was an article published in 2016. In this case study, I discuss how I conducted my research, from the choice of its focus and methods, to how I answered the main research question. I recount the research process in some detail, to show how I dealt with the problem of access to survivors, reluctant to talk on record, and with the ethical issues that I faced. In writing this case study, my aim is to help other researchers and students learn how to carry out research that involves a vulnerable population; how to use a qualitative approach that allows participants to express their subjectivity while building a theoretical framework from the ground up; and how to respect the human subjects of research throughout the process, and never betray their trust.

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