Student Research Projects

Victim Blaming

Student Renee Ellis ’15 and Katherine Killinger ‘14
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Criminal Justice
Course Criminal Justice 350: Introduction to Social Research


This study examined the differences in how victims of sexual violence are blamed depending on the type of relationship. Intimate partner and peer relationship violence were used as scenarios in our survey to gather data. A “peer” was defined as someone belonging to the same age and/or social group that one is familiar with. “Intimate partner” was defined as a person who is involved with another physically and/or emotionally. Surveys were distributed to three different classes as a convenience sample on the Virginia Wesleyan College campus. The participants were 43 voluntary undergraduate students. There was a significant relationship in how students defined rape depending on the relationship type between the victim and the offender. This study shows that a wider range of behavior can be perceived as acceptable in an intimate-partner relationship. This study indicates that additional research may be needed to determine if there is a need for better educating college students about intimate-partner violence and rape.