The Serial Attraction: Why Some Women Are Attracted to Killers

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The Serial Attraction: Why Some Women Are Attracted to Killers

There are many times that a serial killer have many female fans and some killers even married one of them during their killing spree or incarceration / Photo by: Getty Images


Numerous cases have been cited wherein a murderer who gets imprisoned receives letters from fangirls and even gets marriage proposals. In fact, some murderers actually get married during their incarceration. Ted Bundy is one example of this. He started his relationship with Carol Ann Boon when he was standing trial for charges of murder and assault. After pleading guilty for killing 30 people, he married. Another infamous example is Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker, an individual who had been sentenced for murdering more than a dozen people. He married Lioy, who told CNN in 1997 that she believes in him completely and that “there was far more evidence to convict O.J. Simpson.”

There are men who love to kill and women who love men who kill. Some women are drawn toward these “bad boys” for different reasons, including sympathy and fame. For some women, this may indicate that they are suffering from a disorder that causes them to be turned on solely by men who commit murder and other criminal acts.


Kinds of Women Who Fall in Love With Murderers

According to Sheila Isenberg, author of the book Women Who Love Men Who Kill, individuals who are attracted to murderers are composed of two groups:

The ones who fall for “ordinary murderers”

Women who are part of this category believe that they know the real personality of the murderer and tend to see what is good in them. If the killer only committed a single murder, the woman would often attribute the deed to other factors or harsh cirmcumstances like him being dependent on drugs.

The ones who fall for notorious murderers

On the other hand, females who fall for murderers who are often the subjects of headlines tend to be women who secretly want to be noticed.

According to a book, there are two groups of women who fell in love with a serial killer / Photo by: Getty Images


The Reason for the Attraction

CNN and Cosmopolitan explain that these are the reasons why some women are attracted to killers:

She might have Hybristophilia

Katherine Ramsland, a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University, defines Hybristophilia as a “sexual disorder in which arousal is contingent on being with a partner who has committed outrages, such as rape, torture or murder.” The disorder is also known as the Bonnie and Clyde Syndrome.

To clarify, a person may only be diagnosed with Hybristophilia if the only thing or the primary stimulus for their sexual arousal is the idea of killing someone or doing other atrocious acts.

She had a traumatic childhood

Author Isenberg says that while this may not apply to all women who fall in love with murderers, most of them had gone through traumatic experiences as a child.

She expounds, “Without exception, the women I interviewed had all been involved in abusive relationships. Their families, first boyfriends, husbands or someone else had abused them sexually, physically or emotionally.”

Isenberg further elaborates that for women who had previously been abused, being a relationship with a murderer makes them feel as if they are in control. She says that it provides them an opportunity to be in charge and for most of them, it would be the first time that would happen. In this situation, they have choices and are free to come and go. She also adds that the fact that the killer is behind bars makes an abused woman feel safe.

One of the reasons why women is attracted to a serial killer is their traumatic childhood / Photo by: Getty Images


She sympathizes with the murderer

Oren Amitay, a psychologist from Toronto states that women who are in love with killers often think that they are the only ones who can see what the killers are truly like.

Amitay states, “Many of these women believe they’re the only one who can reach the ‘real’ person underneath the monster being falsely portrayed. Only they can give their boyfriend the love and support he deserves, reveal their ‘true self’ and prove that he’s innocent, or at least misunderstood, to the public.”

She wants to be noticed

Ramsland says that one of the fastest ways to attain celebrity status is to date someone who is involved in a murder case.

The partner of the killer will often be asked to be a guest in talk shows where she declares her love for him and tells the public that he is a changed man now or that he was unjustly accused. She may also take credit for changing the murderer’s behavior, making it seem like love was the only thing needed to make him become a better person.

Additionally, the girlfriend of the killer will be included in the drama related to the murder charges, such as the trials, appeal procedures and possibly the execution.

Isenberg who shares the same view says that they get pleasure from the notoriety and that their longing for fame is subconscious.  To quote, “It’s a desire for fame and notoriety… They want to be noticed. They want to be important, like we all do.”

It is an obligation-free and intensely romantic relationship

Most prisons do not allow the lover of the murderer to pay them a visit, which prevents them from getting physical in their relationship. However, for some women, it is much more convenient this way. Murderers who are given life sentence have much time to spare so they often use this to express their affection for their romantic partner.

Isenberg elaborates, “He paints pictures for you, writes poems for you, writes 30-,40-, 50-page letters. It’s an enormously romantic relationship.” She adds these makes the woman feel like she is living in a romantic novel.

Ramsland says that for abused women, a killer is seen as the “perfect boyfriend” because she can now proclaim that there is someone who loves her, she always knows where he is, and she does not have to deal with the usual daily problems that many relationships have.

She describes, “She can keep the fantasy charged up for a long time without having to cook, clean or report to someone.”


Unfortunately,  unlike the way it is portrayed in romance novels, a passionate romance with a murderer tends to dissipate quickly and without the prison bars, the fantasy instantly fades.



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