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.
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.
Fragmented and Frustrating: Rethinking Post-rape HIV Policies
Amongst the many risks and uncertainties brought on by an act of sexual violence is the threat of sexually transmitted infection. What are the barriers to such post-rape health care and advice? In this blog, SHaME Postdoctoral Fellow Dr George Severs reflects on a policy roundtable which considered these questions in relation to HIV.
Book Launch: Teenage Dreams: Girlhood Sexualities in the US Culture Wars
On 13th July 2022, SHaME hosted the official book launch of Dr Charlie Jeffries’ book, Teenage Dreams: Girlhood Sexualities in the US Culture Wars (Rutgers University Press, 2022). Charlie was joined by SHaME’s Prof Joanna Bourke for a short reading and discussion of what this book can tell us about the race- and class-inflected battles over adolescent women’s sexual and reproductive lives.
Shameless! wins Public Engagement Award
Last week, the SHaME team was thrilled to hear that the ‘Shameless! Festivals of Activism Against Sexual Violence’ had won the award for Public Empowerment at Birkbeck’s Public Engagement Award ceremony.