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.

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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.

Psychiatric Aftermaths

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.

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Book Launch: Challenging Conceptions: Children Born of Wartime Rape and Sexual Exploitation

On 05 March 2024 SHaME is holding its final online event, a book launch for Challenging Conceptions: Children Born of Wartime Rape and Sexual Exploitation in collaboration with Tufts University.

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Book Launch: The Flying Child: A Cautionary Tale for Adults

On 20 February 2024, SHaME hosted its very final event, a book launch for Sophie Olson and Patricia Walsh's The Flying Child: A Cautionary Fairy Tale for Adults.

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We are committed to making our research open and accessible, including sharing resources that have helped inform our project.


Members of SHaME and invited guests reflect on current events, their research, recent conferences, ethical dilemmas, and other items of interest.

Affected by sexual violence?

If you have been affected by issues relating to sexual violence, we can recommend some support services.

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