All research on violence is informed by silences. In practical terms, an immediate reading of silence may be that it presents an obstacle for the researcher who is dependent on people who are willing to speak out. Another interpretation of silence is that its presence is central to what we know about violence. Silence and the invisibility of gender in mainstream analyses of violence are closely connected. This article reflects on research in El Salvador, arguing that a critical analysis of violence should directly confront the effects of silence and silencing, particularly as they concern violence against women, which is often separated from ‘real’ violence. It discusses the excuses and localised rationales that work to silence women’s experiences of abuse.
Article first published May 2009, IDSB40.3.