researching sexual violence against older people: reflecting on the use of Freedom of Information requests in a feminist study
Domestic and sexual violence research has traditionally been associated with feminist qualitative methodology; however, quantitative methods are increasingly used by feminists in research examining the prevalence of and issues related to rape and sexual assault, either as standalone methods or in combination with other, qualitative methods (i.e. mixed methods). Freedom of Information (FOI) requests are a data collection tool that allow citizens to obtain data held by public authorities in the UK and are particularly useful for uncovering information on marginalised groups who may be difficult to recruit in qualitative research. Whilst they are frequently used by journalists, their potential is yet to be fully realised by social researchers. This paper reflects on the use of Freedom of Information requests in a mixed-method feminist study exploring sexual violence against people aged 60 years and over.