To Die For Love

It’s not really that weird to fall in love with a serial killer…right?

I mean, I watch “Dexter” like it’s my job and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen just about every single “Law and Order, SVU” ever made at least twice. I’ve seen “American Psycho” upwards of 10 times and every time I finish, I fall deeper and deeper in love with Christian Bale.

There’s definitely a certain fascination with serial killers in our culture, especially when those minds are put into the bodies of some of Hollywood’s “Hottest.” But when this attraction is brought into the lives of real women, it starts to get a little bit freaky.

Take Ted Bundy. Even though he was convicted of killing over 30 women all across the United States, a woman still moved across the country just for the chance to be near him. Eventually, they married and had a child together.

Richard Ramirez, dubbed “The Night Stalker” for his predilection for attacking victims in their beds, was convicted of 13 murders, in addition to 30 other felonies including rape and sodomy. He’s known for being a Satanist and screaming, “Hail Satan” during his trial. In jail, he receives bags upon bags of mail and gets numerous marriage proposals. In 1988, he took it upon himself to propose to a freelance editor who had caught his fancy when he was arrested.

Even Scott Peterson, the man who killed both his wife and child-to-be, found love in prison. It was reported that even just a few hours after he was put on death row, he began receiving phone calls and marriage proposals from women who wanted to carry on the Peterson name.

The fact is that while it just might be someone’s true-to-life fantasy, an attraction to serial killers often springs from some serious mental issues or comes from the result of a painful past. There are an endless number of theories on why these women are attracted to serial killers.

A term often used to describe these people is “Serial Killer Groupies,” shortened for quick reference to SKG. It usually refers to people who have developed an attachment to a serial killer who has been caught and is in prison.

Some of these women find the combination of violence and control alluring. The man is a killer and is therefore powerful, but he’s locked in a jail cell so the woman feels a sense of control over him. The desire to seek out this combination can come from a number of past experiences including the absence of a male figure in the woman’s life.

Women who have survived through a past of abuse or neglect often seek out men who parallel that figure in their lives. The serial killer embodies violence, but the woman is protected from that violence by the bars of the jail cell.

While this is one of the primary theories surrounding the cause of these actions, other theories have emerged – one which asserts the desire for control as its central purpose. An abusive and chaotic past might cause a woman to seek out the ability to control her life, and life doesn’t get much more controlled than a maximum-security prison.

These women are able to know where their partner is and what he’s doing at all times. There is no threat of him being involved with another woman, or him leaving her for any other reason. She can see that keeping a relationship with him would keep her safe from the pain of a normal relationship – until he’s convicted or put on death row.

Others are simply fascinated by violent people. One type of potentially lethal Paraphilia, or unnatural sexual arousal, is called Hybristophilia. It’s a condition where the sufferer becomes sexually aroused by people who have committed a gruesome crime. Some are even thrilled by the ability to live vicariously sadistic lives.

Attracted to his extremely violent past, some of these women believe they are able to see through the “mask” of violence. They seek out the opportunity to change a violent man for the better, being a nurturing figure to hold and acting as a rescuer.

An offshoot of that fantasy, again, returns to the idea of control, where the woman shows her strength by defending the killer. These women delude themselves into genuinely believing in the killer’s innocence. In some cases, such as that of Ted Bundy’s bride, the woman is finally convinced of his guilt and quickly leaves the situation.

Still others are attracted to the notoriety brought on by a high profile serial killer. They thrive on the drama of the trial and the constant media attention. The more involved they become, the more fame they gain and, in going as far as to date and marry the man, their names are forever in the history books alongside the infamous murderer.

It’s certainly fascinating that a normal woman can fall into the category of SKG and it’s even more frightening that anyone could ever consider marrying a convicted murderer in jail. As for me, I’ll stick to DVDs and silver screens for now – I think I just might be getting somewhere with Christian Bale.