Statement of purpose While photo-elicitation has been described as a promising method to explore complex emotional topics such as trauma healing, few methods incorporate a trauma-informed approach grounded in feedback from participants who have experienced violence firsthand. The purpose of this study therefore was to create and evaluate a new trauma-informed photo-elicitation method, Photo-experiencing and Reflective Listening (PEARL).
Methods/Approach PEARL involves the use of a photography focusing prompt and subsequent activity-based interview to capture day-to-day healing experiences and emotions. We used a concurrent mixed methods approach with 17 survivors of gender and sexual violence to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of using PEARL to explore one’s healing journey.
Results Overall, participants enjoyed the uniqueness of PEARL and found it a non-triggering way to engage with difficult material. Of note, participants said that they fully agreed that the interview covered the most important aspects of the topic for them (N=17) and that it was the correct investigative approach (n=14). Participants also noted that PEARL helped them understand how to improve their situation (n=15) and gave them new ways of looking at their problems (n=14).
Conclusion With careful application, PEARL is a survivor-centered method that allows researchers to get a glimpse at survivor healing experiences through the collection of both visual and narrative data. Future research should explore PEARL not only as a potential data collection technique, but also as an intervention to promote active healing engagement in survivors of gender and sexual violence.
Significance While PEARL was created for survivors of sexual violence, it can be applied to understand a wide array of violence experiences. Learning from those who have been victims of violence first hand can help reveal the roots of violence in our society and how we can ultimately prevent it.
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