Last Updated 23 Dec 2022

Serial Killers and Physical Abuse

Category Crime, Physical Abuse
Words 2366 (9 pages)
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Table of contents

Abstract

This research paper summarizes the data collected on ten serial killers. The compared information is product of an in-depth study based on the serial killings committed by the participants. The purpose of my research is to provide the correlation between serial killings and exposure to abuse. Through research which consisted of scholarly articles and other studies of this sort and the details of these heinous criminals I have come to some similarities between the ten participants. We predicted that we will find 90% or more of the participants will have been exposed to one or more forms of abuse in their lifetime.

Introduction

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Serial killers are notably known for killing three or more people. To this day it is unknown what it is that makes a person want to kill. What we need to take into account is the fact that crime and abuse go side by side together. Serial killers are placed in four categories:

“Power & Control“

This type of serial killer experiences complete sexual gratification from the domination and humiliation of the victim. This killer is a true sociopath and lives by his own personal set of rules and guidelines. Many of the famous serial killers we have seen in history and in the media would fall under his type of serial killer.

Visionary

This type of serial killer is compelled by voices or visions they experience and are considered psychotic. These voices and visions compel them to kill certain kinds of people.

Mission

This type of serial killer feels a “need” or duty to kill certain types of people or “class” of people such as religious or racial groups or prostitutes. This type of serial killer is not considered psychotic.

Hedonistic

This type of serial killer makes a strong connection between personal violence and sexual gratification. This type of killer can also be described as a “lust” or “thrill” killer. This killer receives pleasure from the act and has eroticized the experience. They generally take the time to torture or mutilate their victims. This type of serial killer is often portrayed in fictional books and movies (2015).

In this research study my main objective is to not just study crime and abuse, yet understand their crimes by what type of abuse was handed down upon them. I do not think that an individual was born to kill, however, when an individual already suffers from mental illness and is subjected to some kind of abuse, whether it be childhood trauma, physical abuse or sexual abuse, there is something in their brain that just snaps. Once I wrap up my research some factors will come to light showing the comparisons between their criminal history and abuse of their past. Are individuals born bad, personally I do not think so, but that is up for debate. I think that all people are born good and turn bad due to some traumatic factor that happens to them and I will attempt to prove that in my research. Is there a correlation between serial killers (criminals) and abuse? Our null hypothesis (H0: μ ≥ .90); The total of participants who have experienced one form of abuse or another will be greater than or equal to 80%. Our alternative hypothesis (H0: μ ≠ .90); The total of participants who have experienced one form of abuse or another will not be greater than or equal to 80%. While we may not have all of the answers now, this study is a step in the right direction.

Literature Review

  1. Beasley, J. O. (2004). Serial murder in America: case studies of seven offenders
  2. Douglas, J., Shaker, M., & Wal, M. J. in de. (1996). Mindhunter. Amsterdam
  3. Examining Four Types of Serial Killers.
  4. Fraad, H. (2007). Child Abuse and Crime. The Journal of Psychohistory
  5. Keatley, D. A., Golightly, H., Shephard, R., Yaksic, E., & Reid, S. (2018). Using Behavior Sequence Analysis to Map Serial Killers’ Life Histories. Journal of Interpersonal Violence
  6. Leary, T., Southard, L., & Hill , J. (2017, December). The Macdonald Triad Revisited: An Empirical Assessment of Relationships between Triadic Elements and Parental Abuse in Serial Killers Citation metadata.
  7. Reid, S., Katan, A., Ellithy, A., Della Stua, R., & Denisov, E. V. (n.d.). The Perfect Storm: Mapping the Life Course Trajectories of Serial Killers. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
  8. Rifkind LJ. Child Abuse and the Serial Killer: The Communication of Violence. Florida Communication Journal.
  9. Simon, Ü. (2015). The Traits and the Thrill of Serial Killers. Internal Security
  10. Stefanska, E. B., Beech, A. R., & Carter, A. J. (2016). A systematic review of the literature comparing male non-serial sexual killers and sexual aggressors: examining homogeneous and heterogeneous characteristics of these groups. Journal of Sexual Aggression
  11. The Twisted Tale of 'The Co-ed Killer' The diabolical Ed Kemper.
  12. Weizmann-Henelius, G., Grönroos, M., Putkonen, H., Eronen, M., Lindberg, N., & Häkkänen-Nyholm, H. (2010). Psychopathy and gender differences in childhood psychosocial characteristics in homicide offenders - a nationwide register-based study. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology

Participants

In choosing my participants I decided to go with a smaller group rather than a larger group because of the immense research behind each individual. I have chosen ten serial killer, both alive and deceased, five in each category. The process of choosing these individuals was rigorous but I chose both male and female serial killers that showed some kind of past abuse and if they suffered a form of mental illness. Prior to getting any participation I first had to get approval from their individual prisons to be in contact with the individual. The participation was voluntary and if any participant wanted to get out of the study at any time, they were able to. Once all consent was obtained the participants would be given questionnaires and be interviewed with attorneys present via it be in person or telephone conference. Given the deceased participants obviously are not able to speak for themselves, this part of the study would be strictly through research articles, previous studies, biographies, and other pieces of validated literature. Upon the completion of the study participants will receive all results which is explained in their consent form. Full disclosure paperwork, participation permission paperwork, and record release paperwork will be provided to each facilities warden before the study commences. These documents must be provided to each penitentiary in order to move forward with each participating individual.

Method

The purpose of this study is to better our understanding of what the correlation is between abuse (of any kind) and the crimes committed by serial killers. Due to the status that each participant holds, the use of surveys and questionnaires are indispensable. My research will have a quantitative method with a descriptive case study design. The statistics used for my research are not manipulated and are strictly based on one unique population. The independent variable in this study is experiencing abuse (of any sort), and the dependent variable is serial killings. Thus, bringing me to my predictions, being that, we will discover similarities in 80% or more of the participants regarding past experiences with abuse.

Results

The expected results were that we would find a significant and clear connection between at least 90% of the ten participating individuals that is based on past experience with abuse. We expect to see these similarities in 90% or more of the participants. The results took just about a year to determine because of the interviewing process and getting all the facts. Possible limitations in expected results included participant hesitation to disclosure personal experiences. The subject matter of this study is personal and would likely create a sense of vulnerability that any given person would struggle with. The potential for withheld details and information is present, but a risk worth taking. It can hinder the research, but we do not believe it will be in significant proportion.

Although there will always be room for argument and further research in this area, we are confident in the results. As predicted, no less than 90% of our participating individuals shared one or more types of exposure to abuse in common. Now, while the fine print and details of each serial killers’ crimes differ significantly, the connection is clearly there. It is not a guarantee that each individual’s experiences with abuse will have directly influenced their criminal record, it’s fair to say that there is a great chance they did. After all, if not for the introduction of abuse into their lives, the paths they wound up on may very well have been a far different one.

Discussion

Each case is different, yet similar. As I stated previously there are only ten cases that were research but from each case something new was learned. I have got to know these serial killers on personal levels and each case has opened my eyes to more than I could have ever thought. While they may have despicable and heinous acts these individuals all have suffered tremendous abuse in one way or another and these individuals needed to share their stories in this research. The participants ranged in age and include both men and women of whom are living or deceased. Table #1 shows the living participants and their characteristics. Table #2 shows the deceased participants and their characteristics (age at death).

We can see from the tables that each serial killer did suffer some form of abuse which led to their turn of lifestyle. Some participants were driven by sexually based motives while others suffer rage and dissociated actions while some were clearly emotionally based motives.

Identifying the contributing factors in each of these individuals has proven to be both fascinating and at time frustrating. The frustration is due to one simple factor. The variety of combinations. When it comes to childhood abuse and trauma, it was more often than not that we found these 10 participants shared these experiences in common in one form or another. At the same time, only some of these individuals dabbled in drug or alcohol abuse. Some had horrific childhoods and lead destructive lives. While others appear both “normal “and lead seemingly respectable lifestyles. Some of the 14 were abrasive personalities who most would steer clear of. On the other hand, some of them were charming and personable. The types of people who you would not think twice about in a negative sense unless you knew otherwise.

We found that our hypothesis is supported by the data collected. Nearly 90% of the 10 participants were abused as children in one form or another. Overall, every single one of them experienced abuse in one or more of its forms.

The limitations to our research are that half of the participants are deceased. While there has been extensive digging and research done to find only the most reliable past research, there will always be someone, somewhere, who can argue that our research is unreliable due to the deceased being unable to “truly participate”. Another limitation is the risk of false information provided by the participants. While they may have no real reason to provide false information, these participants have no reason not to as well. With that being said, we believe that the information provided has been truthful and can be considered reliable.

During my individual interviews with the participants of the study I realize that all serial killers have a way with words and how they speak, they also have a certain charisma about how they present themselves. After my research there is a statement that Doctor Harold Shipman, Doctor of Death, said that really hit me. He states, 'Serial killers are also often able to manipulate a situation in order to pass the blame for their actions, using hot-button issues of the day or medical psychological research to try to explain their actions'. (MailOnline, V., (2016, July 27)). While this research among others is just a steppingstone, I feel that there is so much more that we can do to understand the mind of a serial killer and how it correlates to abuse.

References

  1. Beasley, J. O. (2004). Serial murder in America: case studies of seven offenders. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 22(3), 395–414. doi: 10.1002/bsl.595
  2. Douglas, J., Olshaker, M., & Wal, M. J. in de. (1996). Mindhunter. Amsterdam: Luitingh-Sijthoff.
  3. Examining Four Types of Serial Killers. (2015, May 8). Retrieved April 21, 2020, from https://authorjenniferchase.com/2015/05/07/examining-four-types-of-serial-killers/
  4. Fraad, H. (2007). Child Abuse and Crime. The Journal of Psychohistory, Vol 36, 85–88. Retrieved from https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?
  5. vid=31&sid=e3fe9151-46e1-4982-9865-4090d4a3aca5@pdc-v-sessmgr02
  6. Keatley, D. A., Golightly, H., Shephard, R., Yaksic, E., & Reid, S. (2018). Using Behavior Sequence Analysis to Map Serial Killers’ Life Histories. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 886260518759655. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1177/0886260518759655
  7. Leary, T., Southard, L., & Hill , J. (2017, December). The Macdonald Triad Revisited: An Empirical Assessment of Relationships between Triadic Elements and Parental Abuse in Serial Killers Citation metadata. Retrieved March 6, 2020, from https://go-gale-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T002&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm¤tPosition=1&docId=GALE|A517879282&docType=Report&sort=RELEVANCE&contentSegment=ZONE-MOD1&prodId=AONE&contentSet=GALE|A517879282&searchId=R2&userGroupName=nhc_main&inPS=true
  8. Reid, S., Katan, A., Ellithy, A., Della Stua, R., & Denisov, E. V. (n.d.). The Perfect Storm: Mapping the Life Course Trajectories of Serial Killers. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 63(9), 1621–1662. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1177/0306624X19838683
  9. Rifkind LJ. Child Abuse and the Serial Killer: The Communication of Violence. Florida Communication Journal. 1991;19(1):26. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edo&AN=34970274&site=eds-live&scope=site. Accessed March 6, 2020.
  10. Simon, Ü. (2015). The Traits and the Thrill of Serial Killers. Internal Security, 7(2), 33–42. doi: 10.5604/20805268.1212110
  11. Stefanska, E. B., Beech, A. R., & Carter, A. J. (2016). A systematic review of the literature comparing male non-serial sexual killers and sexual aggressors: examining homogeneous and heterogeneous characteristics of these groups. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 22(3), 323–341. doi: 10.1080/13552600.2015.1126657Bonn, S. (2014, March 17). The Twisted Tale of 'The Co-ed Killer' The diabolical Ed Kemper. Retrieved March 18, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wicked-deeds/201403/the-twisted-tale-the-co-ed-killer
  12. Weizmann-Henelius, G., Grönroos, M., Putkonen, H., Eronen, M., Lindberg, N., & Häkkänen-Nyholm, H. (2010). Psychopathy and gender differences in childhood psychosocial characteristics in homicide offenders - a nationwide register-based study. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 21(6), 801–814. https://doiorg.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1080/14789949.2010.506616

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