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.
An Evening Celebrating Professor Joanna Bourke
In July 2023, colleagues, friends, and students of Professor Joanna Bourke (PI of the SHaME Project) came together to mark Joanna’s retirement from Birkbeck, University of London. SHaME’s Allison McKibban shares about the evening, which included a panel discussion of her work, an interview, and a video tribute.
Spotlight On: Fiona Ellis
In this edition of Spotlight On, SHaME Director Dr Ruth Beecher interviews Fiona Ellis from Survivors In Transition.
Historicising the Perpetrators of Sexual Violence: Global Perspectives - Special Issue: Women’s History Review
SHaME’s Associate Fellow Dr Stephanie Wright and Director Dr Ruth Beecher present a special issue of Women’s History Review aimed at historicising the perpetrators of sexual violence from a global perspective.