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Not My Shame

Shame plays a significant etiological role in the development of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) and is a barrier to healing for survivors of violence and abuse. Shame, self-blame and humiliation are common culturally mediated responses of minoritized women experiences of sexual violence, and this is a huge barrier in being able to talk about experiences and access support. Research has shown that there is a need for statutory and third sector organisations to develop cultural sensitivity and an intersectional approach when supporting survivors of sexual violence.

This project is creative collaboration between researchers and artists and will focus on empowering survivors of violence and abuse. It’s about shifting the narrative from blaming the victim and recognizing that the societal culture of shame exacerbates mental health problems and is a barrier to survivors healing after abuse and violence. We will work with their community navigators to reach women who might not ordinarily access counselling or therapy: women from minoritised backgrounds who may have experienced multiple barriers to wellbeing – and who will benefit from more voice, choice and control over the design of services most helpful to them.


This project is delivered in partnership with:

The Maya Centre - The Maya Centre is a community-based charity providing free mental health and wellbeing services to women on low incomes whose mental health has been affected by a range of experiences including depression and anxiety, violence against women and girls, inequality, discrimination and racism.

Andreena Leanne - Andreena (she/her) is a Black Lesbian Lived Experience Speaker, Writing Workshop Facilitator & Poet who helps organisations with their inclusion and wellbeing strategy by speaking about intersectionality, authenticity, allyship and facilitating writing workshops on self-care. During the structured workshops the participants are encouraged to explore what self-care means to them and find strategies to avoid burnout and increase productivity.

Andreena writes and performs poetry to come to terms with and speak out about her personal experiences with homelessness, mental health, identity, childhood sexual abuse & the many other challenges she has faced in her life.

Zoe ThompsonSweet-Thang: Zoe Thompson (she/her), is the founder of sweet-thang, a print zine and indie press celebrating Black DIY creativity and culture. She is a freelance social media manager and writer based in London, specialising in editorial design, and hosts creative writing and zine-making workshops.

Evie Muir – Evie is a Domestic Abuse Specialist, Freelance Journalist and Intersectional Feminist

ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health - Working with a range of both academic and non-academic partners, the cross-faculty Centre brings together a unique mix of disciplines and expertise to conduct innovative social science research on the impact of rapid social change in mental health.

Health and Social Equity Collective - The Collective consists of researchers, community leaders, policy makers, and health professionals responding to persistent social and health inequities.


  • To provide a platform to amplify the voices of survivors from underrepresented groups to inform best practice for relevant services and organisations

  • To raise awareness of lived experiences and shift public perception and knowledge around violence, abuse and mental health, particularly around societal shame

  • To provide a space for different stakeholders to network and encourage conversations around working together creatively with those with lived experience to impact policy

  • To use creative methods and provide a safe space to network and encourage conversations


  1. Consult with our collaborators at The Maya Centre to support with planning 6 creative writing workshops and recruiting women from minoritised backgrounds. The creative writing workshops will be designed and facilitative by Andreena Leanne, with clinical support from The Maya Centre

  2. Following completion of the workshops, Zoe from ‘Sweet Thang zine’ will capture the work of the services users and work in collaboration with them to explore how their words will be shared in the zine and the messages to prioritise. Their work will be showcased in the zine alongside words from Evie Muir who will write a piece to speak on her own experience while informing organisations of best practices.
  3. The zine will be showcased at a public engagement launch event where the collaborators and participants will have the chance to share reflections and their work to a wider audience.

Summary of Findings

You can download the project Zine here:

Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigators


Funding Body: Violence Abuse and Mental Health Network (VAMHN)

Amount: £13,956

Period: August 2022 - April 2023