Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters (SHaME) is a research project exploring the role of medicine and psychiatry in sexual violence. We aim to move beyond shame to address this global health crisis.
Sexual violence is one of the most serious problems in the contemporary world. Our interdisciplinary project seeks to understand the role played by medical professionals, including psychiatrists, in understanding and dealing with sexual harms. Instead of shame, we advocate for empowerment and knowledge.
Our research begins with the experiences of victims/survivors of sexual harms both in terms of the medical examination and emotional aftermaths of harm, followed by the role of medical experts in legal settings and in developing knowledge about the perpetrators of sexual harms.
GPs, Police Surgeons, Forensic Medical Examiners
How do medical professionals respond when a person reports being a victim of sexual violence? The medical examination is crucial for future outcomes, including the healing of physical and psychological injuries and the outcome in any subsequent court case.
Medicine and Law
What role does the law play in the way medical and psychiatric aspects of sexual violence are defined, assessed, and judged? Legal texts instruct medical students and practitioners how to present evidence in formal legal settings, as well as how to examine victims.
From Psychopathia Sexualis to the DSM/ICD
How do psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners explain why some people seek to sexually harm others? Their views about perpetrators of sexual violence have changed dramatically over time, as well as in different geographical contexts.
Sexual violence can lead to longer-term emotional and psychological harms. How have these effects been understood? What help has been offered to victims?
Our research team organise regular seminars, conferences, film-evenings, and other public events.
A History of Misogyny: new photography exhibition at Copeland Gallery, Peckham
SHaME’s Professor Joanna Bourke will be in conversation with artist Laia Abril on 16th November to discuss her new exhibition, A History of Misogyny, Chapter Two: On Rape and Institutional Failure.
Remembering Together – Histories of Child Sexual Abuse
On Dec 7th, SHaME (Birkbeck) and the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past (University of York) will be co-hosting a one-day collaborative workshop in London with survivors, practitioners and academics called ‘Remembering Together – Histories of Child Sexual Abuse.’
We are committed to making our research open and accessible, including sharing resources that have helped inform our project.
Independent Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse, February 2022
We Learn From and We Support
The Scale and Nature of Child Sexual Abuse: Review of Evidence (June 2021)
Members of SHaME and invited guests reflect on current events, their research, recent conferences, ethical dilemmas, and other items of interest.
Child Sexual Abuse in the Family by Dr Ruth Beecher — (Un)Silenced: Institutional Sexual Violence
Is the family a place of safety or a trap? SHaME Director Dr Ruth Beecher explores the institution of the family and the (lack of) recognition of child sexual abuse within it.
Hearing Male Survivors by Dr George Severs — (Un)Silenced: Institutional Sexual Violence
Dr George Severs argues that the history of male victims of rape and sexual violence should make us all alert to the ways in which gender norms silence male experiences of abuse, and prompt us to hear hear male survivors who are so often both silent and silenced.
Involuntary Sterilization by Allison McKibban — (Un)Silenced: Institutional Sexual Violence
Can medical institutions participate in colonial violence? SHaME’s Allison McKibban argues the involuntary sterilization of tens of thousands of Native American women in the 1970s must be rehistoricised as part of the U.S. government’s broader campaign of genocide.
Affected by sexual violence?
If you have been affected by issues relating to sexual violence, we can recommend some support services.