Abuse the Child, Beware the Child
A serial killer is a person who commits more than two murders within a certain amount of time and has a psychological motive to commit such acts.Their actions bring attention to the public who are eager to discover the cause as to what lead them to become the vicious monsters they are. Apart from psychological disorders such as schitzophrenia or multipersonality disorder that might have led them to become serial killers, environmental factors also play a major role in the creation of serial killers. Many studies done on serial killers are interested in finding patterns during the development and childhood of serial killers to find a cause or reason for their actions. Research conducted on serial killers shows that most serial killers had been abused as children in different ways, physically or mentally. That raises question to if monsters such as serial killers are born that way or became that way due to past trauma. Child abuse is a possible cause to what creates serial killers and is seen in the hisotry of killers such as Aileen Wuornos. According to Cohen’s Monster Culture, monsters can are outsiders, allowing the experience of child abuse to result in monsters who feel different than the rest of society and make known their distinction by taking the lives of others.
Aileen Wuornos was born on February 29, 1956 in Michigan and died October 9, 2002 in Florida. Life for Wuornos was never easy due to her suffering from endless physical and sexual abuse. Aileen Wuornos’s mother, Diane Wuornos, was only fourteen years old when she married sixteen-year-old Leo Pittman, Aileen’s father. Roughly four months after their marriage Diane Wuornos became pregnant with Keith Pittman, Aileen’s older brother. Less than a year later Diane Pittman became pregnant with Aileen and around two months before her arrival, Diane had filled for a divorce. Aileen’s father was described as a “psychopathic child molester” and was never introduced into Aileen’s life(“Crime Museum”).
Presented in the documentary Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, when Aileen was approximately three years old and Keith was around four years old, Diane gave up her parental rights of both children to her mother and father, Lauri and Britta Wuornos. It was not until Aileen was around twelve years old when her grandparents revealed to her that they were not her biological parents. By that age Aileen had already undergone a very abusive childhood. She was constantly being sexually abused by both her grandfather Lauri and brother Keith. At age nine Aileen was on the streets performing sexual actions on the neighborhood boys, in exchange for cigarettes. Then by age fourteen she gave birth to a baby boy but was forced to give him up for adoption and immediately sent to a home for young unwanted mothers. To this day, it is still unclear who the father of this baby is. When she returned home, her grandmother had shortly died from liver disease due to excessive drinking and her grandfather Lauri committed suicide. After this, they were both put into foster care.
As found in the documentary, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, near the age of sixteen Aileen ran away from Michigan and went down to Florida, where her life of crime and prostitution had begun. She was a homeless drifter that continued to sell her body for money, a place to shower, and a place to sleep at night. When Aileen was twenty years old, her life seemed to have started coming together. She married a very wealthy seventy-year-old man named Lewis Fell. Not long after, that Aileen’s catastrophic past came tumbling back in, and Fell decided to get the marriage annulled. Then her old lifestyle took over once again, lying, stealing, and prostitution. In 1986 Aileen Wuornos had met her twenty-four-year lover, Tyria Moore, at a local gay bar in Daytona, Florida. They were together for approximately four years and Aileen’s criminal ways had rubbed off onto Moore. Between the year 1989-1990 Aileen Wuornos had killed seven man and was named as the first woman serial killer in Florida.
After watching the documentary on Aileen Wuornos life, it became very clear that she had a very rough upbringing. She grew up never having a positive male role model in her life, instead all the men in her life abused her. This could have been the stressor that caused Wuornos to grow hate towards men. It is certain that Wuornos had some sort of psychological difficulties and should not have been sent to death row without a better psychological exam. Wuornos believes that if she grew up in stable two parent household, she would have lived quite a successful life. It was on October 2, 2002 in Florida State Prison that Aileen Wuornos was executed by lethal injection. Her last words before the execution “I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back like Independence Day, with Jesus June 6. Like the movie, big brother ship and all, I’ll be back.” On this day in the Florida state prison Aileen Wuornos was the first ever women serial killer to be executed in the state of Florida.
With that being said, Aileen Wuornos negative childhood played a very big part in her development into adolescence. She went through extensive amounts of physical and sexual abuse, by the men she was supposed to look up to, her brother Keith and grandfather Lauri. It seems that Aileen’s past helped her grow a hate towards men because they would use her for their own pleasure, making Aileen feel as though she was useless and worthless. As a result of the large amount of abuse,trauma, and other life experiences, Wuornos was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder which are seen as the contributing factors.
It is seen that Aileen is a result of her past traumas and experiences. She felt like an outsider because her experience in life is much different than the typical experiences. As Cohen stated in his fourth thesis in Monster Culture, monsters are outsiders meaning they embody what scare us or them. Aileen feared men due to her past dealings with them allowing her to embody them and become an aggressive serial killer herself. Cohen’s seventh thesis states that the monster stands at the threshold of becoming. Culture and society sculpt the way we view monsters and people. For instance, as a child Aileen was viewed as innocent and untroubled while troughout her childhood she was abused. Society does accept that we create our own monsters and blame the victim while we should blame those who abused her. The necessary cause of the serial killer killer Aileen was her father’s death as a child and her abandonment by her mother. The remote cause was her sexual abuse and also her ubringing in such an unstable and chaotic households.
Aileen Wuornos is a prime example that child abuse is a cause of the creation of a monster, specifically serial killers. The experience of child abuse results in monsters who feel different than the rest of society and make known their distinction by taking the lives of others. Aileen Wuornos was brutally abused and raped by close friends and family. This can then lead to the assumption that the motive for Aileen’s killing of men could be due to her experience of abuse with them. She made herself known by murdering seven men but did so to make a stance that her environement did that to her. It is no excuse for her actions but child abuse is very common and awareness should be raised on the causes and outcomes on how it affects the child. Children learn from their surrounding so if they are only exposed to aggression and hate, they will be the same way. As a society, people should be more concerned for those who have a history of abuse in their family because there is pattern in serial killers to show that child abuse is a cause for their murderous actions.
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