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Born and raised in Mumbai, India, and having moved to the United States in 2004, Dr. Bhat's experiences of surviving sexual assault and sexual harassment motivated her to be an outspoken advocate against gender violence and social injustice. Being a proud first-generation immigrant from India, she has 17+ years of diverse work experience both in campus and community settings, ranging from interdisciplinary gender violence-based research and prevention, program administration, teaching and training, and event organizing. Her recent work experience includes working at ValorUS (formerly CALCASA) as a Project Coordinator in Prevention to being promoted to Project Manager in Intervention work, providing technical assistance and training assistance to local rape crisis centers, dual agencies, and partner organizations.

Education & Publications

Dr. Bhat received her PhD in Criminology, Law, and Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a specialization in Gender and Women Studies. Her dissertation explored images of violence against women in Bollywood Indian cinema and their implications for the Indian diaspora in the United States. Dr. Bhat received the 2016 Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Victimology by Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS), and the  Michael D. Maltz Outstanding Graduate Student Award by the Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago.

She is also interested in exploring narrative and visual criminology, with a focus on gender violence, media representations, and gender violence. Her book chapter titled Feminist Critique of the Representation of Motherhood and Masculinity in Bollywood Cinema: Implications of Gender Violence in the Indian Diaspora was published in the new edited anthology by Demeter Press.


Dr. Bhat is passionate about using, creating, and producing film/cinema and storytelling as tools to create narrative and social change and community dialogue, gender violence prevention education and outreach, cultural competency, street harassment, and racial, social and immigrant justice. As an aspiring storyteller and prevention educator, she has completed her facilitators training in digital storytelling at StoryCenter, Berkeley, CA, and oral storytelling classes at Capital Storytelling, Sacramento, CA. She is currently a Capital Storytelling Ambassador this year and has hosted virtual storytelling workshops for immigrants and refugees.

Dr. Bhat is thrilled to be one of the 45 recipients of the 2022 Seeding Creativity Individual Artist Grant offered by the City of Sacramento Office of Arts and Culture. Her proposed project will invite storytellers within South Asian immigrant communities across all generations and diasporas to share their lived experiences on a wide range of topics that are usually perceived as taboo or hush hush. 

Prevention Workshops


Dr. Bhat has successfully conducted prevention education workshops on using storytelling and film as prevention tools at the Institute for Violence, Abuse, and Trauma (IVAT) San Diego Summit, ValorUS (formerly CALCASA), the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCEDSV) State Conference, and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Violence. Dr. Bhat was also invited as a guest expert on a panel on Migrant Storytelling organized by the University of Philippines (UP CIFAL) & UNITAR, and as a guest presenter by the UIC Alumni Exchange Series on Using Storytelling in Our Everyday Lives. 

Other Roles & Mentorship

As someone who is dedicated to a career blending academia with narrative and culture change through community education, Dr. Bhat feels fortunate to have mentored and guided many prospective high schools, undergraduate and graduate students including international students and aspiring educators interested in pursuing a career in social and gender justice. She also offers one-to-one mentoring and consulting coaching services. 

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