Professor researching effects of purity culture

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Professor Rachel Venema of the social work department is conducting a research study exploring student experiences with sex education and Christian purity culture, and how they impact attitudes towards sex and sexual violence.

Venema’s current project is a follow-up to a study she did during 2017 on sexual violence.

Through her research on sexual assault and sexual violence, she found that “people, particularly women, who experience sexual assault experience a lot of guilt and self blame related to that, and I think that that can be exacerbated by purity culture.”

Venema added that while there are currently a lot of anecdotal writings about purity culture, there isn’t yet any empirical data around the issue.

She is currently finishing up recruiting students and is preparing for the focus groups. The groups will consist of 10 students, separated by gender. Students who participate in the study will discuss with their peers two sets of open-ended questions related to sexual education, purity culture and its effect on attitudes towards sexual assault.

Venema will be presenting her findings in April during a Sexuality Series event.