Writing, Researching, and Surviving Sexual Trauma: A Creative Response

SHaME is closing its Writer in Residence Programme with this special Panel Discussion and Creative Performance Event with Clare Shaw, SHaME researchers Dr Ruth Beecher and Professor Joanna Bourke, and our Writer in Residence Winnie M Li.


26 May 2021

SHaME is pleased to close its Writer in Residence Programme with this special Panel Discussion and Creative Performance Event with Clare Shaw, SHaME researchers Dr Ruth Beecher and Professor Joanna Bourke, and our Writer in Residence Winnie M Li.

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


Register Now
26 May 2021
5.00-6.30pm GMT
Safeguarding Statement


In the closing event of this Writer in Residence Programme at The SHaME Project, a panel of award-winning authors and researchers will discuss how writing enables individuals, academics, and society at large to address the reality of sexual trauma. They will also perform new creative work generated during the residency, which examines the dialogue between academic research and lived experience through artistic exploration. A free online resource will also be launched through SHaME partners Clear Lines, providing the public with creative writing tools to enable their own personal exploration of this topic.

Clare Shaw’s poem ‘I Do Not Believe in Silence’ has become a rallying cry against rape culture, living with the experience of trauma, while surrounded by a society that ignores, pardons, and even encourages ongoing abuse. Winnie M Li’s novel Dark Chapter and her activism have likewise championed survivor-authored narratives of sexual violence. As Writer-in-Residence at The SHaME Project this spring, Winnie brought academics researching sexual trauma in dialogue with survivors, activists, artists, and the public — using creative writing and literature as a bridge to generate discussion. Clare and Winnie’s artistic responses to this dialogue will be performed and discussed with historians Dr Ruth Beecher and Professor Joanna Bourke (author of thirteen books including Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present), and Principle Investigator of The SHaME Project.

The final part of the panel will involve a public launch of a free online resource developed by Clare and Winnie through the grassroots arts organisation Clear Lines. Over the past few years, Winnie and Clare have been running creative writing workshops exclusively designed for survivors of sexual abuse and violence — and more, recently, for researchers and professionals addressing sexual violence. Demand for these workshops has always been high, so they have developed a free online toolkit which will enable individuals and organisations to engage, emote, and reflect upon this issue and your personal experiences through a set of creative writing exercises.

Don’t miss this authentic and innovative discussion on the impact of sexual trauma, the value of writing, and the need for greater dialogue between academia and the real world experience — in order to bring about positive change.


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.



Clare Shaw has three poetry collections with Bloodaxe: her fourth will be published in 2022. Clare is also a mental health trainer and author, with a specific expertise in sexual abuse and self-injury. She believes in language as a media for activism and transformation:  her poetry frequently addresses themes of trauma and survival, alongside wider issues of community and mutual support.  As an Associate Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, Clare is responsible for establishing writing projects across the UK. She is co-director of the Kendal Poetry Festival; and a regular tutor for the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust and the Arvon Foundation.


Joanna Bourke is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London, Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, and a Fellow of the British Academy. She is the Principal Investigator of the SHaME project. She is the prize-winning author of fifteen books, as well as over 100 articles in academic journals. Among others, she is the author of Rape: A History from the 1860s to the Present (2007), What it Means To Be Human: Reflections from 1791 to the Present (2011), and The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers (2014). Reaktion Books will publish Disgrace: Global Reflections on Sexual Violence in July 2022. 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.


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 joining SHaME, she managed a range of family support services in London.


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.