Qualitative Health Research Network


Alison McKinlay

This seminar topic was participatory action research to challenge harmful societal misconceptions of adult survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Seminar details

Title: Participatory action research to challenge harmful societal misconceptions of adult survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Date: Thursday 20th April 2023

Time: 14:00-15:00 (UK time)


Dr Alison McKinlay will talk about the importance of participatory action research as a qualitative research method and how this approach was used to inform the design of the Plain Sight research project. Plain Sight is a creative health research project, using film and creative writing to help challenge the harmful misconceptions that exist in society about adult survivors of Child Sexual Abuse.

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a pervasive crime that affects people from all walks of life. The true extent of CSA is unknown but it is estimated that up to 11 million people in the UK have experienced a form of CSA in their lifetime. Many of those who come forward about their experiences have been subjected to stigma, discrimination, inappropriate labels and victim-blaming. This has to change. The false beliefs around CSA survivors as being broken or defective, who have to deal with their issues in private, to get better or self-manage, are incredibly harmful and detrimental.

Alongside Viv Gordon Company, the research team have been working collaboratively with the Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network (VAMHN) and Fluxx Films to develop 4 short films inspired by responses to a creative research survey from 25 CSA survivors from around the UK. The aim of the films are to disrupt the conversation and change public narratives about what it means to be a survivor.

A growing number of survivors are engaging in social justice and activism conversations on and off social media. An example of this includes being involved in participatory action research, calling for change in the public perception of survivor experiences and their lives beyond abuse. Plain Sight was developed in response to these conversations about the need for change.

Speaker biography

Dr Alison McKinlay is a Senior Research Fellow at the University College London Centre for Behaviour Change. She is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and an Associate of the Royal Society for Public Health. Her research focuses on health-related experiences of stigma and health service intervention development and evaluation. To date, Alison’s research has been funded by the Wellcome Trust and Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network. Alongside her research, Alison is also a board of trustees member for the Hillingdon Women’s Centre, which provides specialist support for any woman who has experienced violence and abuse.

Seminar recording

Watch the seminar recording below:

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/E3j39dcH

The films mentioned in the presentation, can be found here