Does experiencing and understanding abuse and trauma make me a good user experience designer?

By Eriol Fox

Elevator Pitch

After publishing the article ‘Can experiencing and understanding abuse and trauma make me a good user experience designer?’ I wanted to Dive deeper into this question. I’ll be talking about how links between UX design and research can trigger abuse patterns and ways that’s good and bad for products.


Eriol is investigating the links between experiencing trauma as a Human centred design researcher. How does trauma affect the way a design researcher approach topics with users? Especially those about intrinsic human needs or those that are fraught?

Delving deep into the correlation between people pre-disposed to high-functioning empathy due to life circumstances (typically around trauma and abuse) and how this intertwines with product development and UX design/research.

Questions and topics like:

Are those with traumatic responses attuned to the more subtle within users experiences and therefore able to extrapolate data quicker or more affectively? Do they build rapport better? Do they have more or a different kind of empathy? But, does it further harm or impact the designer? Are those living with trauma at higher risk of bypassing second-hand trauma and collecting more?

How to consider staff members that have a trauma/abuse background when supporting them to feel able to tap into their experiences to inform products.

I intend to cover my experiences and learnings first and then I want to propose speculative/fictional cases to small teams to provoke discussion on them. These could be: ‘Your team has just become involved in building an app for those who have experienced domestic abuse’ How would you begin this project? What are the things you need to be aware of? What are the conditions you may want to put in place when building this app? Who and how will you approach research for this?

I may give roles and character backgrounds for each of these scenarios in order to build empathy.

Who is this session for?

People building tech for marginalised people and around difficult subject matter.

People who have experienced trauma and/or abuse and want to investigate how that integrates with their work.

People who work with people who have experienced trauma and/or abuse and want to gain a deeper understanding on how to support their workmates and understand the subject further.


Presenter will be using a Macbook pro with a HDMI port using Keynote