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Handling sensitive research with care

Sex, religion, and violence can be difficult to talk about, even with your closest friends. But how do academics approach these subjects with complete strangers?

When gathering qualitative evidence through interviews with older women who have been raped, Hannah Bows, a doctoral candidate at Durham University, says the best approach is to let your participant take the lead.

“People don’t like to think about older people having sex, much less older people being raped. It’s a real taboo,” says Bows. When conducting interviews, Bows says that she avoids asking direct questions about the traumatic experience.

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