We are an interdisciplinary research hub for scholarship on the interlinks between sexual violence, medicine, and psychiatry. Sexual harms are experienced by people across different societies and are often shrouded in complex feelings around shame. We aim to move beyond shame to address this global health crisis.

We are focused on promoting human health through providing unprecedented insights into the role of medicine and psychiatry in understanding, interpreting, treating, prosecuting, and preventing sexual violence.

We place medical professionals at the heart of debates, and our project spans both historical and contemporary, regional and global perspectives. Sexual harms are experienced by people across different societies. It can happen to anyone, at any age and at any time. Often these events are shrouded in shame and many things are never uncovered or understood. Our interdisciplinary project seeks to understand the role played by medical professionals, including psychiatrists, in understanding and dealing with sexual harms.


SHaME is a growing team exploring diverse aspects of sexual harms across time and geographical region. We will be welcoming future collaborations with scholars, practitioners and activists.

Professor Joanna Bourke

Joanna Bourke is the PI for this project. She is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. She is the prize-winning author of thirteen books, including histories on modern warfare, military medicine, psychology and psychiatry, the emotions, what it means to be human, pain, and rape, as well as over 100 articles in academic journals. Her books have been translated into Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Czech, Turkish, and Greek. She is a frequent contributor to TV and radio shows, and a regular correspondent for newspapers.

Dr Ruth Beecher

Dr Ruth Beecher is a postdoctoral research fellow on the SHaME project. She is a social and cultural historian with interests in the history of race, gender, children and families, and popular culture in the US and UK in the twentieth century. She is trained in both applied and historical research (University of Sheffield and Birkbeck). Prior to the project, she managed a range of family support services in London.

Dr Stephanie Wright

Dr Stephanie Wright is a postdoctoral researcher on the SHaME project. She is a social historian of modern Spain with broader interests in the history of psychiatry, disability, and gender. Her previous research examined the experiences of maimed veterans of the Spanish Civil War. She will continue to explore the social history of violence and the body in her next research project, which will explore sexual violence in Francoist Spain through the concept of ‘dishonest abuses’ (abusos deshonestos).

Ms Adeline Moussion

Adeline Moussion joins SHaME as a doctoral student. She was formerly a student at the EHESS (MA Anthropology) and the ENS Lyon (MA History of Philosophy). Her PhD is an anthropological study of socio-medical support for victims of sexual violence in two French organizations.

Ms Emma Yapp

Emma Yapp joins SHaME as a doctoral student. She was formerly employed at King’s College London as a research worker on projects about domestic and sexual abuse and mental health, and comes from a background in Philosophy and Psychology. Her PhD explores how psychiatric evidence about survivors of sexual violence is used in court proceedings in England and Wales.

Dr Louise Hide

Dr Louise Hide is a Wellcome Trust Fellow in Medical Humanities and joins SHaME as an affiliated senior fellow. A social and cultural historian who has published on the history of psychiatry and its institutions, her current project is titled ‘Cultures of Harm in Residential Institutions for Long-term Adult Care, Britain 1945-1980s’. She recently co guest edited with Joanna Bourke a special issue of the Social History of Medicine. Her first monograph Gender and Class in English Asylums, 1890-1914 was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.

Ms Caitlin Cunningham

Caitlin Cunningham is a third-year PhD student and joins SHaME as an affiliated fellow. She works on themes of sexuality, settler colonialism, gender, race, medicine, the law, and sexual violence in the nineteenth century.

Ms Rhea Sookdeosingh

Rhea Sookdeosingh is the Public Engagement and Events Coordinator for the project. She is an experienced public engagement professional, and has previously worked in capacity-building roles at Birkbeck and the University of Oxford. Prior to joining the SHaME project, she was Birkbeck’s first Public Engagement Intern, with responsibility for developing and organising the College’s inaugural Public Engagement Awards. Before this, she worked at the University of Oxford, running the Humanities Division’s annual Public Engagement with Research Summer School. Alongside her work with SHaME, she is completing a PhD at Oxford on the history of anorexia nervosa in nineteenth-century Britain.

Mr James Gray

James Gray is a critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker, and an affiliate of the SHaME project. Over the past decade, he has written, produced and directed over twenty hours of factual television for all the major UK broadcasters, with a particular focus on history and documentary subjects. He has made films on a diverse range of subjects; encompassing everything from the Lockerbie Bombing, to the history of the Council Flat in Britain, and from Hadrian’s Wall to the History of Dentistry. As well as producing and directing, he also works as a Development Producer, bringing new ideas to the screen.

Advisory Board

The project has a distinguished international Advisory Board to help formulate the research strategy, review and analyse our findings at different stages, and develop our dissemination strategy.

Lord Ian Blair, Baron Blair of Boughton


Professor Susan Brownmiller

Independent Scholar, New York

Professor Ivan Crozier

Independent Scholar, Marseille

Professor Philip Dwyer

University of Newcastle (Australia)

Dr Carine Minne


Professor Carine M. Mardorossian

University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Professor Stephen M. Robertson

George Mason University

Professor Jennifer Temkin

City University London