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June 2020 Virtual Journal Club Session

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Welcome to the Center for Victim Research Virtual Journal Club for June 2020. (Learn more about the journal club and sign up to join us!)


For this session, our theme is Victims’ Experiences of Research Participation. We read:

  • Predicting the Effects of Sexual Assault Research Participation: Reactions, Perceived Insight, and Help-Seeking by A. Kirkner, M. Relyea, & S.E. Ullman. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2019, vol. 34 no. 17, 3592. (Abstract)
  • Login to and search the CVR Library for “predicting the effects of sexual assault research participation” to find the full-text article.
  • Full-text will also be sent a week before the journal club session to those who signed up.

Let us know if you have issues accessing the article or logging in.

Quick Tips on Reading Research Articles



There will be multiple ways to participate in discussion during June 22-26, 2020.


Twitter Chat

We hosted a Twitter chat with one of the article authors, Dr. Anne Kirkner, on Wednesday June 24, 2-3pm EST. Dr. Kirkner is a Criminologist for the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and manages their Center for Victim Studies. Discover more of Dr. Kirkner’s research through her Research Gate profile. Review the questions and catch up on the chat:

Discussion Prompts

Respond to any or all of the following prompts and add any other reactions you had while reading this article. Throughout the week, come back to read and respond others’ comments.

  • Did reading the article “Predicting the Effects of Sexual Assault Research Participation” shift your perspective about involving crime victims in research?
  • The researchers noted the importance of using non-blaming survey language and providing participants with a list of community resources. Especially when research is not conducted in-person, what else can researchers do to ensure their research process is trauma-informed and victim-centered?
  • The researchers discussed study findings that surprised them, like the relationship between emotional dysregulation and increased insights from research participation. What did you think of the researchers’ idea that “those who have trouble inhibiting distressing emotions during the survey may have more opportunities for thinking about and possibly gaining insight into what upsets them”?
  • While this study found that most survivors had a positive reaction to participating in the survey, what barriers may prevent crime victims or victim services organizations from participating in research?
  • The article mentions how these findings could apply to IRB applications and college surveys about traumatic experiences. How might the article’s findings impact victim assistance screening and assessment or programs?
  • Has your organization participated in research on victim services and victimization? How did you work with researchers to build in protections for study participants’ safety and privacy?
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2 responses to “June 2020 Virtual Journal Club Session”

  1. Elynne Greene says:

    I have been thinking about this topic for a while because research is so critical to understanding the perspective of victims and survivors. The impact of both their experience and the impact of research studies are important parts of understanding trauma. Research questions or conversations, if drafted in a victim centered and trauma informed manner can be empowering. Victims may feel that they have a safe space to express thoughts about their experience, both negative and positive.
    In our work with domestic violence victims, We often ask victims to keep a journal and log incidents of abuse for criminal justice purposes, but it also helps to address minimization and to highlights patterns in developing safety plans. For example, a victim may indicate that the abuse escalates every other Friday, which corresponds with the abuser’s payday and an evening out with co-workers. That may be an oversimplification, but we ask victims to do their own research.
    The response is often overwhelming because of the intense focus on their trauma as they focus their thoughts and reflect on vulnerability and the painful experiences as a victim of abuse. The almost laser focus on their traumatic experiences requires a plan for support because of the array of emotions and feelings that come up. Increased insight into their experiences can facilitate change in the narrative and its impact on their lives. It can slow for and support a reframing of “old thoughts about the experience.” But it can also Stir up emotions and feelings that were buried as a means of survival.
    All of the forms, and explanations promising confidentiality to victims of crime does not always comfort crime victims who had a particularly negative experience when they were victimized. The response within the criminal justice system, a lack of support for physical, emotional and financial needs related to the crime and a general sense of being blamed or judged results in a sense of resentment. I have heard victims say “now my opinion or my needs matter?” Why should they want to “help.” Plus an inherent distrust based on their experience in the past leaves them questioning the promising of confidentiality and professionalism.
    In short, research is critical to understand the impact of trauma from those who have experienced it, but participation in Certain studies should include a screening process to assess the participants and their support network as well as other aspects of their recovery.

    • Laura Puls says:

      The journaling idea is so valuable – victims using their own words to capture what is happening and to see the patterns and seriousness over a period of time. I appreciate too your emphasis on victims’ support networks as a potential screening question. Victims need to feel able to share truthfully (with researchers, with their friends) what happened to them, without concern that sharing negative experiences may impact access to services or that they will lose control of their case and options. And so victims have another person they trust to process feelings that may come up with survey questions. Thank you, Elynne!

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