Literature and Sexual Trauma: Authors Writing Their Lived Experience

SHaME is pleased to continue its Writer in Residence Programme with a public event featuring a distinguished panel of award-winning authors who will speak about transforming their own lived experiences of sexual violence into different forms of literature.


14 April 2021

SHaME is pleased to continue its Writer in Residence Programme with a public event featuring a distinguished panel of award-winning authors who will speak about transforming their own lived experiences of sexual violence into different forms of literature.

This is the second of three public events in the WiR Programme, a collaboration with survivor-centred arts organisation Clear Lines.


Register Now
14 April 2021
5.00-6.30pm BST
Safeguarding Statement


For the second public event of SHaME’s Writer-in-Residence Programme, a distinguished panel of award-winning authors will speak about transforming their own lived experiences of sexual violence into different forms of literature. Memoirist and academic Susan J. Brison, poet Shivanee Ramlochan, and graphic writer Una will speak with our Writer-in-Residence, novelist Winnie M Li, for an authentic discussion about trauma, writing, and recovery.

The act of writing has long been a vital means of self-expression when confronting the trauma of sexual violence and abuse. As artists and communicators, perhaps writers are uniquely placed to illuminate the psychological landscape behind this kind of lived experience.  But the journey from the raw experience of victimhood to authoring one’s own narrative can be different for each individual. By bringing together a poet, graphic writer, memoirist, and novelist we hope to understand how these various forms of creative writing allowed each survivor to tell their stories of sexual abuse/assault in different ways.

Like all SHaME events in this series, this evening is designed to bring survivors and activists into conversation with interdisciplinary scholarship in the field of sexual violence.  Expect a wide-ranging dialogue, followed by an audience Q&A. Some of the questions addressed will be:

  • What literary and ethical choices do authors face when drawing upon their own life experiences of sexual harms?
  • How can a particular form of writing allow each survivor to convey the mental health and bodily impacts of trauma, and the recovery from it?
  • How does one emotionally navigate the reception and reaction to your writing going public?
  • How can creative writing illuminate the experience of sexual violence in ways that academic, legal, or medical studies can’t?


Age Guidance: 18 yrs +
FREE – but please register in advance
To register, please follow the link below:

*This event is taking place online. Attendees will receive a joining link a few days prior to the event.
*Please note: this event will be recorded.



Susan J. Brison is Professor of Philosophy and Eunice and Julian Cohen Professor for the Study of Ethics and Human Values at Dartmouth College (New Hampshire, USA). She has been a visiting professor at Princeton University and a Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Having survived a near-fatal rape and murder attempt in France in 1990, she has first-hand experience of how traumatic violence shatters a self and of how a self can be rebuilt in connection with others. Through her book, Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self, and her scholarly articles and lectures, she has brought greater philosophical attention to the topics of rape, domestic violence, hate speech, and image-based abuse. She has raised public awareness of gender-based violence through international talks, radio and television interviews, and articles in the The New York TimesThe GuardianTime, and other newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

You can purchase Susan’s book, Aftermath, at the link below:


Shivanee Ramlochan is a Trinidadian poet and essayist. Her first book of poems, Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting (Peepal Tree Press, 2017) was a finalist for the 2018 People’s Choice T&T Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Shivanee was shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Prize for Poetry. “The Red Thread Cycle”, from her debut collection, won a Small Axe Literary Competition Prize for Poetry (second-place), and was on audiovisual display at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas in 2019. She has received residencies from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Millay Colony, and Catapult Caribbean Arts Grant. She has served as a poetry reader and editorial judge for Commonwealth Writers, Honeysuckle Press, Moko Magazine, and others.

Her second book, a non-fiction narrative on Indo-Caribbean women’s disobedience, is forthcoming from Noemi Press in 2022.

Shivanee’s book, Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting, can be purchased direct from the publisher, Peepal Tree Press, at the following link:

Find Shivanee’s work online at,, @novelniche


Una is an artist and writer. Una’s first graphic novel about her complicated early life, Becoming Unbecoming, was published in 2015. It has been widely translated, featured on BBC Radio 4 Open Book, Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, in Newsweek, The New York Times, won a Prix Artemisia in 2019, and has been adapted into a theatrical work in Brazil. Una’s other graphic novels are: On Sanity: One Day In Two Lives (2017) a book about her mother’s psychotic illness, Cree (2018) a book about a group of women in a small town in County Durham, commissioned by New Writing North, and Eve, a chilling story set in a small northern town, coming in May 2021 with Virago Press. Una lives in Leeds with a partner and a teenager. She is currently failing to produce a satisfactory sourdough bread, but doing quite well at A level history.

Una’s graphic novel, Becoming Unbecoming, can be purchased at the link below:


Winnie M Li is an author and activist, and Writer-in-Residence at SHaME. Her novel Dark Chapter is a fictional retelling of her real-life rape from victim and perpetrator perspectives. Translated into ten languages, it won The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize, and was nominated for an Edgar Award and the Best First Novel Award. A Harvard graduate, Winnie founded Clear Lines, the UK’s first-ever festival addressing sexual assault and consent through the arts and discussion. Her ongoing PhD research at the London School of Economics explores media engagement by rape survivors as a form of activism. Winnie has appeared on the BBC, Sky News, Channel 4, The Guardian, The Times, The Mail on Sunday, BBC Woman’s Hour, and TEDx London.  She has an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland in recognition of her writing and activism, and her second novel will be published in April 2022.

You can purchase Winnie’s book, Dark Chapter, in e-book, audiobook, or hardback here: