True Crime & Retraumatization of Victims

Society has a fascination with true crime. Serial killers are typically the crime of choice. They are the embodiment of the worst depths of what humans can be capable of. Serial killers intrigue us because we can never truly figure them out. There has been a boom in podcasts, documentaries, and books delving into the cases of the worst crimes in history. This media borders on glorifying these criminals and can lead to the retraumatization of the victims and their families. 

One aspect of this phenomenon is the rise of murderabilia, which is the sale of artifacts related to criminals or crimes. One famous example of this is the art of John Wayne Gacy. Gacy created art that he sold while he was in prison. The state of Illinois actually sued Gacy over this (Homepage, 2024). Up until the ‘90s, Gacy’s art hardly sold for above $250 a piece, yet recent auctions of his art have gone for up to $175,000 (Brinkhof, 2023). With the rise of popularity of true crime media, the hobby of collecting murderabilia has also gone up. Some may see this as a morbid, but harmless hobby, but the reality is that the glorification of these items can be incredibly damaging to victims.

When a victim’s family sees the art of the person who killed their loved one be fawned over by the masses, it retraumatizes them. Imagine losing a loved one, then hearing about the gruesome details of their murder from a true crime podcast. It can feel like their pain and suffering are being exploited for profit, turning their personal tragedies into objects of fascination for others.

It’s important for consumers of true crime media and collectors of murderabilia to be mindful of the impact their actions may have on victims and their families. While it’s natural to be curious about these dark and twisted stories, it’s crucial to remember the real people whose lives were affected by these crimes.


Brinkhof, T. (2023, May 16). Murderabilia: Our morbid fascination with the garish art of American serial killers. Big Think.

Homepage. (2024, February 2). A+E Networks EMEA.


View all posts

One comment

  1. Terrific post and excellent points here. I cannot imagine how exploitative it must feel to the victims of killers to see money being made off of such horrific events. It has been suggested that if any money is made from these events or stories, the proceeds should go to the victims; I believe the same should hold true for any ‘murderabilia’. Storing it in a museum would only further stoke the flames of intrigue into vile crimes and urban legends. Only succeeding in further traumatizing victims by leaving the items on display, whatever they may be. This is not a topic that many would consider, so thank you for raising our awareness to it!

Comments are closed.