One of the most effective theories that can best explain why Aileen Wuornos turned to be a serial killer is Hickney’s Trauma Control Model. According to this theory, trauma inflicted on a person during childhood sets up the individual to assumes deviant behavior in later stages of development (Cullen, 2020). Hickey states that the environment surrounding the child, which includes family members and the society, is the dominant factor that can determine whether a child’s behavior will escalate into homicidal activity (Cullen, 2020). Children who are exposed to such causes of trauma as divorce, violence, sexual, physical, and verbal abuse, negligence, alcoholism, homicide, and others are likely to pass through disposition and escalate the behavior towards homicidal activities (Cullen, 2020). Consequently, these aspects can explain why people become serial killers later in their adult lives.
In the case of Aileen Wuornos, it is evident that she faced trauma in her childhood years. First, she never met her father because he had been jailed before she was born. Secondly, her mother Daine abandoned the two children and left them in the care of the maternal parents, both of whom were alcoholics. Aileen Wuornos was sexually and physically abused severally by her grandfather in her childhood. Also, an accomplice of the grandfather raped Aileen Wuornos and impregnated her at the age of 14. Consequently, it is evident that Aileen Wuornos experienced a traumatic childhood that exposed her to acts of violence. Indeed, the trauma was caused by men (Cullen, 2020). This phenomenon can explain why she was always bitter with men and killed only males in her later years.
The second theory that can explain why Aileen Wuornos became a serial killer is the expression of rage and control. According to this model, female serial killers commit the crime to revenge against certain things against males (Cullen, 2020). In addition, they seek to collect certain totems from the victims as a way of showing and expressing control over the other gender. In most cases, these individuals are likely to have experienced assault or other kinds of abuse by males, especially during childhood. In her case, Aileen Wuornos was a prostitute who killed only males. She also killed only strangers rather than people she knew. It is possible that she had an internal desire to revenge against men as she had fallen victim of abuse by males in her childhood. In addition, she must have felt the need to exert control over males as a way of revenging for the experiences she endured in her childhood.
In most cases, females differ significantly from male serial killers in several ways. For instance, most female serial killers use methods that are covert or low-profile such as poison, shooting, drowning, and stabbing. In addition, they prefer specific places such as homes or healthcare facilities and within the same city or neighborhood (Cullen, 2020). Furthermore, more female than male serial killers commit murder for material gains. Sexual and sadistic motives are in female than male serial killers (Cullen, 2020). It is also worth noting that most female serial killers target strangers rather than people they know, but they can also kill family members, a characteristic not seen in most male serial killers.
In conclusion, it is highly probable that the early childhood experience that Aileen Wuornos underwent contributed to her behavior in adulthood. Specifically, she experienced sexual and physical abuse as well as negligence by her parents and grandparents. The exposure to violence caused trauma and she later exaggerated her behavior to assume a prostitution lifestyle. Because those who caused trauma were males, all of her victims were men. Therefore, it is evident that her motive to kill was to control and revenge against males.
Cullen, E. (2020). American evil: The psychology of serial killers. Waterside Press.