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Who Gets heard/hurt in Gender-Based Domestic Violence Research: Comparing Ethical Concerns in Three Qualitative Research Designs

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The study presents the ethical concerns the authors have identified as necessary to address for methodologically sound qualitative research with survivors of gender-based violence. The aim is to define questions that need to be addressed before research with this vulnerable and diverse group can be considered so that the threat of inflicting further harm is mitigated and the possible positive impact of research is increased. We outline and compare the merits and possible drawbacks of three different approaches to research with gender-based violence survivors.


We compare the ethical/methodological rationale and approaches used in three different projects employing mixed-method exploratory research, survivor-centered qualitative interview-based research and experimental research through practices from the theatre of the oppressed. The comparison centers on showing the relative advantages of individual approaches in terms of ethics in practice.


The individual studies and their comparison confirm the ongoing salience of ethical considerations outlined by, e.g., proponents of feminist participatory action research; our findings also underline the necessity of considering the social contexts of violence and the need to adjust research design to ethics.


Our study shows that using research designs that do not lead to direct empowerment of survivors should only be considered after other options have been tried and proven inefficient. Ethical considerations need to be holistic, focusing on preventing further harm and paying attention to the social contexts of violence and the impact of representing the research results.

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  1. The English version of the Code is available online: (Cited on March 24, 2023).

  2. The English version of the Code is available online: (Cited on March 24, 2023).

  3. In March 2021 – a month after publishing research report - 25 media outputs were scored by the press department of Faculty of Humanities, Charles University of Prague.

  4. Interviews are collected by the second author, Dana Moree, at the time of writing of this article.

  5. One of the authors is trained in the method and has worked with a wide range of marginalized groups for ten years.

  6. The system of assistance consists of three main “pillars”: the Police of the Czech Republic; child protection services and intervention centres; the judicial system.



  9. Under Czech law, a person suspected of committing domestic violence may be temporarily evicted from a shared dwelling using an eviction (also known as barring) order for ten days (the period may be substantially prolonged by the court). Such eviction can be ordered by law enforcement officers or directly by the court.

  10. One of the authors, Blanka Nyklová, was previously approached by another NGO to help design a quantitative questionnaire and later edit an extended research report from a mixed-method research project into sexualized violence. Her involvement was less direct and we therefore do not detail it here, although it did impact her work with NGOs working with survivors.

  11. For instance:;


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The research presented in the paper was funded by an Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway Funds grant no. LP-HRMGSA-009 Research Center for Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ReCeGe).

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Correspondence to Blanka Nyklová.

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Nyklová, B., Moree, D. & Kubala, P. Who Gets heard/hurt in Gender-Based Domestic Violence Research: Comparing Ethical Concerns in Three Qualitative Research Designs. J Fam Viol 38, 1127–1138 (2023).

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