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New Video Series for How To Conduct Interviews with Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Posted on November 25, 2013 by Matisse Bustos Hawkes

All images are stills taken from the video series.

Contributions to the post were made by Jackie Zammuto and Saara Ahmed

Today marks the beginning of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. “16 Days” is a global solidarity campaign that runs every year from November 25  – December 10 whose goal is to highlight actions to prevent and end violence against women.

As a part of this year’s campaign, WITNESS is pleased to present a 6-part video series in accompaniment to our written guide Conducting Interviews With Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. The video series includes first-hand experience from trainees, experts, leading activists and survivors expanding on: considerations for filming, creating appropriate questions, safety & security, interviewing techniques and the effects of trauma on survivors.

Access the entire playlist here.

Why Video?

The power of storytelling can be personally cathartic for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (GBV). These personal stories can serve as evidence as well as tools to promote policy reform and mobilize action. However, we also know that it can be incredibly painful to share these personal experiences. Video can be an effective way for survivors to share their stories with many key audiences ranging from justice systems, to advocacy groups to communities or at-risk populations, having to record it once as opposed to telling it multiple times which can be re-traumatizing.

Of course, sharing a personal experience of sexual or GBV on video can be challenging it its own right. Based on over a decade of work with GBV advocates and survivors, it was clear to us that some guidance was needed for how to conduct these interviews ethically and effectively.

A New Toolkit: Written and Video Guide for Conducting Interviews with Survivors

This summer we released guide Conducting Interviews With Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based ViolenceIt includes considerations and guidance for anyone setting out to interview survivors. The tips are organized into stages of preparation for the interview, during the interview, after the interview and special attention is given to ensuring the safety and security of interviewees.

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Filmmaker Otim Patrick shares tips on interviewing survivors of GBV.

So far the guide has been accessed over 9,000 times and soon we’ll be announcing Arabic, French and Spanish versions of it. It has also been distributed as a part of recent video advocacy trainings in Kenya and South Africa.

The video series provides additional tips and insight based on first-hand experience from trainees, experts, leading activists and survivors expanding on: considerations for filming, creating appropriate questions, safety & security, interviewing techniques and the effects of trauma on survivors.

The series is broken down into six parts:

1) Getting Started – An intro to breaking the silence and what it means for survivors to share their stories.

2) Before Filming – What you should know about approaching survivors and the importance of building trust.

3) Safety & Security – Assessing risks, obtaining informed consent and protecting the identity of survivors.

4) During Filming – Asking appropriate questions and taking logistics of filming into account.

5) Psychology & Trauma – Being aware of the psychological effects, triggers and general affects of the experience for the survivor.

6) After Filming – Now what? How do you share the final version of interview and what happens with your relationship with the survivor after the interview?

Additional Resources

Visit our webpage dedicated to this year’s 16 Days campaign for more resources. And check out the Gender-Based Violence section of the blog for more information on our, and our allies’, efforts.

Over the next 16 days, we will be profiling a few of the activists, practitioners and advocacy organizations working tirelessly to end violence and support survivors. Activists continue to prove that video for change is an effective advocacy tool and we look forward to hearing how you will use video to end violence against women.

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Thank you to the many individuals and organizations who supported the production of this video series! An extra special thank you to all of those who appeared in the video: Alain Kabenga, Activist/Survivor, Men of Hope Association; Elana Newman, Ph.D., Professor at University of Tulsa/Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma; Faisal Khan, College Coach & Teacher/Survivor, Fungisai Maisva, Researcher; Kate Rush-Cook, Activist/Survivor; Katherine Hull, VP of Communications, RAINN; Katlyn Lewicke, Activist/Survivor; Lisa Jackson, Filmmaker and Producer; Melissa Bermudez, LICSW and Training Manager, RAINN; Mora Fernández, Activist/Survivor; Nancy Schwartzman, Filmmaker/Activist/Survivor; Otim Patrick, Filmmaker/Activist, Refugee Law Project – School of Law, Makerere University; Refik Hodzic, Director, Communications ICTJ; Rutendo Munengami, Activist/Survivor; Tiphanie Crittin, Researcher/Project Officer, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights.

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Ann Ward February 12, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Dear Friends at Witness, can you tell me if this series is available in Arabic yet? I really need it! Thanks much. Ann

    New Video Series for How To Conduct Interviews with Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

    • Matisse Bustos Hawkes February 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Ann, thanks for checking in on the status of the Arabic translation of this resource. It is imminent. I’ve asked a colleague to get in direct touch with you. But stay tuned, also coming up very shortly are Spanish and French translations.

      Thanks!

  2. lunga mandla majola November 27, 2013 at 7:25 am

    very nice work you all are doing.

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