Blog Archives

Some People Kill Just For The Thrill Of It. Doc Bonn Explains Why

Thrill Killers, Dr. Scott Bonn, Doc Bonn

 
 

*photo by Evan Lavine

Incredibly, there are people who kill simply for the excitement it gives them. Killing provides them with an adrenaline rush similar to what you or I might receive from an extreme roller coaster ride. Such individuals are usually psychopaths so they rarely, if ever, suffer remorse for their murders.

Serial killers of this variety are defined as hedonist thrill killers by criminologists Ronald Holmes and Stephen Holmes in their typology of serial killer motivations.1 Israel Keyes, the army veteran, who stalked and killed eight people across several states prior to his capture and suicide in Alaska in December 2012, is the most recent example of this type of serial predator.

Thrill killers are emotionally detached from their victims and generally view them as objects. They are cold-blooded, meticulous predators who are driven to kill by compulsion rather than by passion. Hunting their prey becomes an addiction for them much like a narcotic drug.

As explained by Peter Vronsky in his 2004 book Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters, thrill killers derive intense satisfaction from the process of murder—that is, the acts leading up to it—rather than the killing itself.  Once they have experienced the exhilarating thrill of the hunt they want it again and again.

The victims of a thrill killer are generally strangers, although the killer may stalk them for a period of time before the attack in order to fuel the excitement of the hunt. They come to crave the euphoric adrenaline rush provided by stalking and capturing their victims. The primary motive of thrill killers is to induce pain or terror in their victims prior to killing them which provides intense stimulation and excitement.2 The inability of a psychopathic thrill killer such as Israel Keyes to feel compassion or sympathy enables him to view the torture and killing of his victims as a sport.

Normally, the attack of a thrill killer is swift and there is generally no sexual aspect to the murder. Once the victim is dead, a thrill killer typically loses interest in him/her almost immediately. Therefore, postmortem mutilation or necrophilia is rarely engaged in by this type of serial killer. This pattern represents a stark contrast to hedonist lust killers such as the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer who love to engage in postmortem sexual activities.

Hedonist thrill killers can abstain from murder for long periods of time and become more adept at killing as they gain experience and refine their skills.3 They are typically meticulous and highly organized in the planning and execution of their crimes. Thrill killers are perfectionists and often have narcissistic personalities. Such traits may drive them to pursue the goal of a perfect murder or delude them into thinking that they will never be caught.

Another example of the hedonist thrill killer is Robert Hansen, who murdered at least seventeen women near Anchorage, Alaska, between 1980 and his capture in 1983. A psychopath, Hansen took his captured victims to a secluded area where he would let them loose and then hunt and kill them just for the sport of it. He was in essence a twisted trophy hunter who preyed on humans.

Perhaps the ultimate hedonist thrill killer was the unidentified predator who called himself “Zodiac” and operated in Northern California during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  The Zodiac terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area and aggressively tormented his pursuers throughout his crime spree. He targeted four men and three women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-nine in the San Francisco area from December 1968 until October 1969. Five of his victims died and two were injured in the attacks. He finally stopped killing for unknown reasons and his identity remains a mystery.

The killer gave himself the name Zodiac in a series of taunting letters that he sent to local newspapers in the Bay Area. His numerous letters also included four cryptograms (or ciphers)—only one of which was definitively solved. The tremendous excitement that the Zodiac Killer derived from his murders is evident in the words contained in his one cipher that was solved. In it he wrote, “[Killing people] is so much fun. It’s even better than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous animal. To kill gives me the most thrilling experience. It is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl.” For the Zodiac Killer and other psychopathic thrill killers like him, the process leading up to the act of murder affords them the greatest satisfaction of their lives.

Doc Bonn, Dr. Scott BonnTo learn more about the pathological minds and motivations of serial killers look for the release of Dr. Scott Bonn’s new book Why We Love Serial Killers from Skyhorse Press later this year. Scott Bonn, PhD, is an author, media analyst and professor of criminology at Drew University. Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter.  

Dr. Scott Bonn is located in Manhattan and is available for live on-air commentary, expert consultation and speaking engagements. More information about his experience and past media appearances can be found at his website, DocBonn.Com   Please call (843.808.0859) or email (contact@imaginepublicity.com) to discuss media opportunities.

 

 

 

1Holmes, R.M. and Holmes, S.T. 1998. Serial Murder, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

2Vronsky, P. 2004. Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters. New York:

Berkley Books

3Ibid.

 

Serial Killer Groupies and Collectors of “Murderabilia”

murderabilia,Unabomber jacket, Dr. Scott Bonn, Doc Bonn

*photo released by US Marshals Service Office of Public Affairs

The public’s fascination with serial killers is not limited to what is portrayed about them in the news or entertainment media. There are people who take their fascination to an extreme and become ardent fans or collectors of serial killer artifacts. There are even groupies who become lovers or spouses of serial killers. For example, Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker) married an obsessed groupie and journalist, Doreen Lioy, in 1996 while he was awaiting execution in California. Lioy vowed to commit suicide the day he was executed but Ramirez died of liver failure while still on death row in 2013. Former FBI profiler, Roy Hazelwood, commented to me on such extreme fascination and behavior:

There are some people (mostly females, but also males) who are fascinated by corresponding or meeting with serial offenders.  Here I am referring to individuals who correspond not to learn but to [develop a] relationship.  Some women even “fall in love” with these men, believing them to be misunderstood.  Such people, in my opinion, generally have low self-esteem.  By interacting with serial killers, they fulfill their own need for attention.

Hazelwood explained that in some rare instances a groupie actually wants to become vicariously involved in the crimes of the killer. He told me, “I interviewed four women who participated with their husbands in the murder of others.  Every one of them admitted to being afraid of the killer and yet aroused by the acts.”

The general public seems to have a tremendous appetite for the sensationalized atrocity tales of serial killers that are continually presented in the entertainment media and it appears to be willing to spend millions of dollars to satisfy it. Since the 1970s there has been a growing consumer market worldwide for serial killer themed content and merchandise. For example, author Stieg Larsson’s “The Millennium Trilogy” (based on “The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo”) has sold more than 75 million copies around the world. In addition, the success of television series such as The Killing, Hannibal, The Following and Bates Motel demonstrate that stories based on serial killer themes have become mainstream entertainment material.

Above and beyond the many millions of consumers who are entertained and frightened by serial killers in the mass media and other mainstream outlets, there are also obsessive collectors of serial killer memorabilia who help to catapult individuals like Richard Ramirez and BTK into the status of criminal celebrity icons.

Can you imagine wanting to own an article of clothing once worn by Ted Bundy or an oil painting by the late John Wayne Gacy? How about collecting serial killer trading cards? For people who want such things, there are a number of outlets where they can be purchased. In fact, there are at least six websites in the United States which currently sell murder memorabilia, and these sites offer artifacts from almost any notorious killer imaginable. On one of the most popular sites, MurderAuction.com, the starting bid for a lock of Charles Manson‘s hair is $2,500, for a “skull clown” painting by John Wayne Gacy the starting bid is $2,999, and for a painting of his alter-ego “Pogo the clown” it is $19,999. In addition to top-sellers like Manson and Gacy, collectors can purchase items from other infamous killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and Joel Rifkin. The objects range from personal items such as letters, artwork, and clothing to manufactured items such as action figures, trading cards and comic books. If one is perhaps looking for a bargain, the starting bid on MurderAuction.com for a small bag of backyard (burial ground) dirt from the boarding house of serial killer Dorothea Puente is only $25.

Exactly what leads a person to collect artifacts from notorious killers? That question was asked of several prominent sellers of murderabilia who are also avid collectors of the items themselves. One of these individuals is Eric Gein, who owns and operates SerialKillersInk.net—a leading website that sells murderabilia—from his home in Jacksonville, FL. His adopted last name is homage to psychotic 1950s multiple murderer and body snatcher Ed Gein. In an interview with ABC News he said, “I started writing guys [in prison] in the mid-90s. I wanted to get inside their minds and see what made them tick, see what they did and why they did it.”

Along the way, Gein discovered that he was not alone in his macabre interest. He said there are many people who have a fascination with “going to the source” and “actually holding something that an infamous monster has created or owned.” The fascination with serial killer memorabilia that Gein shares with many others led to his website business. He claims to have a diverse customer base that includes collectors of the bizarre and macabre, university professors who use the murderabilia items as teaching tools, college students looking for unusual dorm room decorations, U.S. military personnel, and true crime enthusiasts. He believes that the items he sells have historical value. “It’s a dark history, but it is part of our history,” Gein, said. “Why not have these items, study these items, preserve these items for future generations? Maybe one day find out why [serial murderers] do what they do.”

To learn more about the public’s obsession with serial killers, look for Doc Bonn’s forthcoming book, “Why We Love Serial Killers” from Skyhorse Press in 2014. Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter

Dr. Scott Bonn, Doc Bonn,ImaginePublicity

Dr. Scott Bonn is located in Manhattan and is available for live on-air commentary, expert consultation and speaking engagements. More information about his experience and past media appearances can be found at his website, DocBonn.Com   Please call (843.808.0859) or email (contact@imaginepublicity.com) to discuss media opportunities.

 

The Race to Incarcerate: Black and Latino Prisoners in America.

The Race to Incarcerate: Black and Latino Prisoners in America.

The number of persons in U.S. prisons is more than 2 million—roughly equal to the entire population of Houston, Texas. The massive U.S. prison population does not mirror the demographic profile of U.S. society, however. The vast majority of U.S. prisoners are poor, uneducated, unskilled, emotionally or psychologically troubled, drug and/or alcohol dependent, and either Black or Latino.

The racial disparity between prisoners and the general population is particularly profound.  Blacks and Latinos together comprise less than 30% of the general population but nearly 70% of the prison population!  How can this be?  Conventional–that is, uninformed–wisdom suggests the reason Blacks and Latinos represent the majority of the prison population is that they commit the majority of all crimes in the U.S.  That is simply not the case.  The reality is that Blacks and Latinos are differentially targeted and processed by the U.S. criminal justice system.

Consider these facts: Blacks alone make up 12% of the U.S. population and comprise 14% of all illegal drug users, but they represent 35% of all drug arrests, 55% of all convictions for drug crimes, and 75% of all those who go to prison for drug crimes!  Disturbingly, racial disparity in justice system processing exists for other crimes as well.  The startling statistics reveal that racially biased processing is common throughout the criminal justice system in the U.S.  Perhaps this should not be surprising, however.  After all, one must remember that the police, district attorneys and judges all have tremendous discretion in whom to arrest, prosecute and sentence.

It is time to pull the blindfold off of lady justice and admit that she is not blind after all. She sees quite well, indeed. Her acute but sometimes prejudiced and biased vision unfortunately leads her to differentially target and process many poor Blacks and Latinos.  The result is a prison population that does not fairly or accurately reflect the true picture or color of crime in the U.S.  Let’s put an end to such practices and deliver justice fairly to all citizens.

Join “An hour to kill with Doc Bonn” with special guest Dr. Tina Maschi, Associate Professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, and President of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work.  Her research interests center around the intersection of aging, mental health, and the criminal justice system, particularly the influence of life course trauma on later life health and well-being.

Listen to the podcast:  An Hour to Kill with Doc Bonn

Follow criminologist and media analyst and consultant Dr. Scott Bonn @DocBonn on Twitter and visit his website www.docbonn.com  Listen to Doc Bonn’s bi-weekly segment on Wednesdays at 11pm ET on  The Roth Show

Dr. Scott Bonn is located in Manhattan and is available for live on-air commentary, expert consultation and speaking engagements. More information about his experience and past media appearances can be found at his website, DocBonn.Com   Please call (843.808.0859) or email (contact@imaginepublicity.com) to discuss media opportunities

The Race to Incarcerate: Black and Latino Prisoners in America.

“Monster Dearest: Our Macabre Fascination with Serial Killers” Tell me what YOU think!

Monster Dearest: Our Macabre Fascination with Serial Killers, Dr. Scott Bonn, ImaginePublicity

Are you fascinated with serial killers?  I’d like to hear your comments on my forthcoming book.

Synopsis of “Monster Dearest: Our Macabre Fascination with Serial Killers”

Since at least the 1970s serial killers have been frequent and chilling actors on center stage in the news and entertainment media.  Massive and highly stylized news coverage of real life serial killers such as David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam,” and Jeffrey Dahmer transforms them into ghoulish celebrities.  Similarly, fictional serial killers such as Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter in the blockbuster 1991 film Silence of the Lambs have also become popular culture icons.  More recently, the tremendous financial successes of the Showtime television series Dexter and the book and film franchise based on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo demonstrate how eager the public is to be frightened by serial killers.

When you bring up the name of an infamous real life predator such as Jack the Ripper or Ted Bundy in conversation with a group of people, it is clear that serial killers are a hot topic.  Some folks actually become gleeful in their demeanor when discussing them.  Why is that, I wonder?  Could it be that some of us have a macabre fascination with serial killers for the same reason(s) that many of us are morbidly drawn to stare at a catastrophic automobile accident unexpectedly encountered along a highway?  Therein lies the central question of this book.  Why are so many people, including myself, fascinated by serial killers?  Answering this intriguing social question while also debunking serial killer myths and providing compelling new insights into serial predators are the primary objectives of this book.

Unlike other books about serial killers which focus on the behavior of the criminals only, “Monster Dearest” offers an exploration into the nature of society itself and its powerful appetite for the macabre, while also providing new and unique insights into serial murderers.  Significantly, this book provides a penetrating sociological look at the public’s fascination with serial homicide which is groundbreaking in its approach.  In order to understand why so many people in society seem to be captivated by serial killers, “Monster Dearest” examines the social agents and processes that turn them into fiendish celebrities.  In order to achieve its objectives, this book contains the following components:

•           An in-depth examination of serial murder realities in the U.S. and a comparison of serial killing to other types of multiple homicide such as mass murder.

•           A discussion of antisocial personality disorders, including sociopathy and psychopathy, and how such conditions may be manifested in serial killers.

•           An examination of criminal profiling techniques used by law enforcement professionals such as the FBI to identify and apprehend unknown serial predators.

•           An investigation of important social processes, including news media reporting, that may help to explain how and why serial killers often become grizzly popular culture personalities.

•         An examination of the role of key social agents such as the news media, state officials (e.g., law enforcement) and the general public in the creation of the public identities of serial killers.

•           A compelling exploration of the actual words of two notorious serial killers, i.e., David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) and Dennis Rader (Bind, Torture, Kill), gained through exclusive correspondence with them, which offers insights into their minds and the public’s fascination with serial predators.

•           An argument that the sudden appearance of a serial killer in the public eye, driven by massive news media coverage and journalistic hyperbole, can create public anxiety or “anomie” (i.e., conflicting social norms) when the public is confronted by a socially defined super predator that defies all conventional wisdom concerning criminal motivations and behavior.

•           A second argument that the stereotypical representation of serial killers as inhuman monsters by law enforcement and the media reduces anomie or public anxiety by clarifying moral boundaries and defining evil while also establishing serial killers as the “other” in society—that is, they are separate and distinct from decent, normal people.

I am writing “Monster Dearest” as you read this, so your feedback will make a contribution to my work.

Would you like to read this book?  Why or why not?

What appeals to you the most about it?

What would you like to see added or changed?

Please give me your comments below.

Thank you. “Doc Bonn”

“Monster Dearest: Our Macabre Fascination with Serial Killers” Tell me what YOU think!

Follow criminologist and media analyst and consultant Dr. Scott Bonn @DocBonn on Twitter and visit his website www.docbonn.com  Listen to Doc Bonn’s bi-weekly segment on Wednesdays at 11pm ET on  The Roth Show

Dr. Scott Bonn is located in Manhattan and is available for live on-air commentary, expert consultation and speaking engagements. More information about his experience and past media appearances can be found at his website, DocBonn.Com   Please call (843.808.0859) or email (contact@imaginepublicity.com) to discuss media opportunities

Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony Common Denominators: Is Arias a Cold-Blooded Murderer?

Jodi Arias, Dr. Scott Bonn, Doc Bonn

Jodi Ann Arias, the young California woman accused of brutally killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, will face the death penalty when her case finally goes to trial soon in Arizona after numerous delays.  Judge Sherry Stephens denied a defense motion in which Arias’ lawyers requested the death penalty be removed as a punishment option for her. The 31-year-old photographer is accused of shooting her former lover, Alexander, in the face, stabbing him 27 times, and slitting his throat. Certainly, it was an act of overkill by any analysis of the facts.

This will be another blockbuster trial and media event.  Similar to Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias is an attractive young woman with no prior criminal record who is accused of committing an unimaginable murder—in Anthony’s case, the killing of her own daughter.  Similar to Anthony, Arias faces the death penalty. And, eerily similar to Anthony, Arias exhibits sociopathic tendencies in both her demeanor and behavior. Specifically, she appears emotionless and detached when she describes her ex-boyfriend’s death. Claiming that Alexander’s death was an act of self-defense, Arias exhibits neither sadness nor remorse. In fact, her demeanor seems almost cold-blooded at times.

Assuming that Arias did act in self-defense, and is a rational, normal person, you would expect her to express some remorse for her lover’s death, if only for the grotesque and extreme nature of her actions that took his life. Instead, Arias manifests an almost smug persona, including a little smile, and she expresses no pity for Alexander, whatsoever.  Instead, she seems aloof and self-absorbed.  These are classic sociopathic tendencies, similar to those exhibited by Casey Anthony.

In order for the prosecution to be successful in its case against Arias, it must demonstrate that she killed Alexander after careful deliberation and with premeditation—the requirements of first-degree murder.  In order for her to receive the death penalty, the prosecution must also prove extreme and aggravating circumstances in the murder. Casey Anthony is free today precisely because the prosecution failed to prove that she killed her own daughter in such a manner.

First-degree murder with aggravating circumstances is a high-risk prosecution and it is very difficult to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.  Is Jodi Arias innocent?  Will she be executed?  Or just like Casey Anthony, is she a sociopath who will get away with murder? Only time will tell in this fascinating case.

Follow criminologist and media expert Dr. Scott Bonn @DocBonn on Twitter and visit his website www.docbonn.com

Dr. Scott Bonn is located in Manhattan and can be present in any of the New York City network studios for on air appearances or feeds to affiliate stations. He is available for live assignments as well as commentary or remarks for print and speaking engagements. More information about his experience and past media appearances can be found at his website, DocBonn.Com   Please call (843.808.0859) or email (contact@imaginepublicity.com) to discuss media opportunities.

Why Doesn’t the U.S. Recognize International Law? Ask Doc Bonn!

The world community has been concerned about genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes throughout the centuries.  In 2002, a treaty-based court, called the International Criminal Court (ICC), was established in The Hague, The Netherlands, for the prosecution of international war crimes committed on or after that date.

The ICC is the first ever permanent international institution, with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals responsible for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.  The ICC was established by the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court, so named because it was adopted in Rome, Italy on July 17, 1998 by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court.  The Rome Statute is an international treaty, binding only on those states which formally express their consent to be bound by its provisions.  Upon ratifying it, these states become formal “Parties” to the Rome Statute.  The Rome Statute entered into force on July 1, 2002 after ratification by 60 countries.  To date, 121 countries, with the notable exceptions of the U.S. and China, have become Parties to the Statute.

The ICC is an independent international organization, and is not part of the United Nations system.  However, the jurisdiction and functioning of the ICC are governed by the Rome Statue, which is a treaty that was initiated by the United Nations.  The ICC has jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, i.e., genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Each of these crimes is clearly defined in the Rome Statute and other relevant texts such as the Geneva Conventions.   The Rome Statute clearly stipulates that acting in an official capacity as a head of state, member of government or parliament or as an elected representative or public official in no way exempts a person from prosecution or criminal responsibility.  Superiors or military commanders may be held responsible for criminal offenses committed by persons under their effective command and control or effective authority and control.

According to the Rome Statute, the specific crimes of war that may be prosecuted by the ICC include:

Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, such as:

1) Willful killing, or causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health 2)Torture or inhumane treatment

3) Unlawful wanton destruction or appropriation of property

4) Forcing a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of a hostile power

5) Depriving a prisoner of war of a fair trial

6) Unlawful deportation, confinement or transfer

7) Taking hostages

 

 The following acts as part of an international conflict:

1) Directing attacks against civilians

2) Directing attacks against humanitarian workers or U.N. peacekeepers

3) Killing a surrendered combatant

4) Misusing a flag of truce

5) Settlement of occupied territory

6) Deportation of inhabitants of occupied territory

7) Using poison weapons

8) Using civilians as shields

9) Using child soldiers

 

 The following acts as part of a non-international conflict:

1) Murder, cruel or degrading treatment and torture

2) Directing attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers or U.N. peacekeepers

3) Taking hostages

4) Summary execution

5) Pillage

6) Rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution or forced pregnancy

 

Significantly, the ICC only has jurisdiction over these crimes where they are part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.  Additionally, the ICC only tries those accused of the gravest crimes, and due to resource limitations (as it is primarily funded by state parties) it is not in a position to bring to justice every person who has committed crimes of concern to the international community.

The ICC is intended to complement, not to replace, national criminal justice systems.  In this regard, the ICC is a court of last resort.  Proceedings before the ICC may be initiated by a state party, the prosecutor or the United Nations Security Council.  It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine; for example, if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility.  Also, the ICC may exercise jurisdiction over international crimes only if they were committed on the territory of a state party or by one of its nationals.  These conditions, however, do not apply if a situation is referred to the prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council, whose resolutions are binding on all U.N. member states, or if a state makes a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Although the U.S. originally voted against the adoption of the Rome Statute, President Bill Clinton unexpectedly reversed his position on December 31, 2000, and signed the treaty but indicated that he would not recommend that his successor, George W. Bush, submit it to the Senate for ratification.  On May 6, 2002, the Bush administration announced that it was nullifying the U.S. signature of the treaty.  The main objections to the ICC offered by the Bush administration were interference with national sovereignty and a fear of politically motivated prosecutions.  President Barack Obama has taken no action to change the U.S. position on the ICC he inherited from G.W. Bush.

The refusal of the U.S. to recognize the authority of the ICC over its citizens places it at odds with almost all of its staunchest international allies. Ironically, however, it puts the U.S. in alignment with China, a nation that the U.S. has frequently accused of human rights violations.  Similarly, Iran, Iraq and North Korea do not recognize the court’s authority.  The refusal to recognize the ICC thus aligns the U.S. with the G.W. Bush administration’s so-called axis of evil in rejecting international consensus on war crimes.

How does the refusal of the U.S. to recognize the authority of the ICC make you feel?  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Please submit your comments below or email me directly at docbonn1@gmail.com.  Follow me @DocBonn on Twitter.

Tune in for “An hour to kill with Doc Bonn” at high noon ET on Friday, Nov. 9th when Dr. Scott Bonn is joined by Dr. Jonathan Golden, Associate Director of Drew University’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict.  Professor Golden is an expert in global conflict and religious studies.  They will discuss international law, terrorism and war crime in the post-9/11 era.  Listen live http://groups.drew.edu/wmnj/

 

Dr. Scott Bonnis Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq”and is currently writing a book about the possibility of finding hope and redemption behind prison walls.   

 

 

 

 

 

“Holding My Hand Through Hell” by Susan Murphy Milano is Must Reading!

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so the timing of the release of this inspiring new book from Susan Murphy Milano couldn’t be more perfect.  This poignant and well-written book tells the story of a police officer’s family and a daughter’s quest for justice long after the heart-wrenching murder of her mother. Susan Murphy Milano embraces a legacy of unconditional love and faith to triumph over a life plagued with unspeakable abuse and pain.

Based on a true story, told with the flow of a novel, spiced with frank wisdom and wit, “Holding My Hand Through Hell” encourages the reader to immerse themselves into this family s life and is an inspiration to become an advocate for change in this world we all share. The book also features a lovely foreword by Diane Fanning, the award winning true crime author of “Mommy’s Little Girl.”

“Holding My Hand Through Hell” will incite discussion, debate, and heightened awareness about hope, survival, abuse, murder, and its impact on our society. In the end, it will leave readers both applauding this woman as well as wondering how she escaped, sometimes at the eleventh hour. Twenty years later, she has realized that God must have been holding her hand through hell, delivering her from the evils of her life in order to save others.

Best-selling author Steve Jackson says, “Raw and riveting ‘Holding My Hand Through Hell’ starts fast and never lets up. In this powerful memoir, author Susan Murphy Milano throws open her personal closet so that we see what drives this woman to tirelessly champion voiceless victims and the people who love them.”

My friend, Susan Murphy Milano, is a specialist in intimate partner violence and works nationally with domestic violence programs, law enforcement and prosecutors providing technical and consulting services in “high risk” domestic violence and stalking related cases. Her principal objective is to intervene before a victim is seriously injured or killed. Susan is the creator of the important and powerful Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit© procedure for domestic violence victims.

Susan’s quest for justice was instrumental in the passage of the Illinois Stalking Law and the Lauternberg Act.  She has been prominently featured in newspapers, magazines, radio and television including: The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Radio, ABC’S 20/20, Justice Files, E-True Hollywood, CNN, Sunday Today Show Profile, Women’s Day, Family Circle, US News and World Report to name only a few.   She has frequently participated in guest media commentary panels on major news programs.

To learn more about Susan and her work, visit the following sites:

SusanMurphy-Milano.Com

DocumentTheAbuse.Com

HoldingMyHandThroughHell.Com

To purchase copies of Holding My Hand Through Hell:  IceCubePress.Com

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Do you know the signs of partner abuse?

 

It can be hard to know sometimes if you’re being abused.  Abuse takes so many forms—emotional and physical.  For example, you may think that your intimate partner is allowed to force you to have sex. That’s not true. Forced sex is rape, no matter who does it! Also, you may think that cruel or threatening words do not constitute abuse. They do.  And such emotional or psychological abuse can be an early warning signal that your partner will become physically violent in the future.  Know the signs of abuse.

Below is a list of possible signs of abuse. Some of these behaviors are illegal and can be prosecuted. All of them are wrong. You may be abused if your partner:

  • Monitors what you’re doing all the time
  • Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful all the time
  • Prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family
  • Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school
  • Gets very angry during and after drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Controls how you spend your money
  • Controls your use of needed medicines
  • Decides things for you that you should be allowed to decide (like what to wear or eat)
  • Humiliates you in front of others
  • Destroys your property or things that you care about
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, or pets
  • Hurts you (by hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting)
  • Uses (or threatens to use) a weapon against you
  • Forces you to have sex against your will
  • Controls your birth control or insists that you get pregnant
  • Blames you for his or her violent outbursts
  • Threatens to harm himself or herself when upset with you
  • Says things like, “If I can’t have you then no one can.”

If you think someone is abusing you, please get help.  There are useful links below.  Abuse can have serious and even life threatening physical or emotional effects. No one has the right to hurt you.

Are you in an unhealthy relationship?

Sometimes a relationship might not be abusive, but it can still be unhealthy for you. If you think you might be in an unhealthy relationship, you should be able to talk to your partner about your concerns. If you feel like you can’t talk to your partner, try talking to a trusted friend, family member, or a professional counselor. Consider calling a confidential hotline to get the support you need and to explore next steps. If you’re afraid to end the relationship, call a hotline for help now!

Signs of an unhealthy relationship include:

  • Focusing all your energy on your partner
  • Dropping friends and family or activities you enjoy
  • Feeling pressured or controlled a lot
  • Having more bad times in the relationship than good
  • Feeling sad or scared when with your partner

Signs of a healthy relationship include:

  • Having more good times in the relationship than bad
  • Having a life outside the relationship, with your own friends and activities
  • Making decisions together, with each partner compromising at times
  • Dealing with conflicts by talking honestly
  • Feeling comfortable and able to be yourself
  • Feeling able to take care of yourself
  • Feeling like your partner supports you

If you feel confused about your relationship, a professional counselor can help. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.  For immediate help or more information go to:

National Domestic Violence Hotline http://www.thehotline.org/

Womenshealth.Gov http://www.womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/mental-health-effects-of-violence/index.cfm

Tune in for “An hour to kill with Doc Bonn” on Friday, Oct. 19 at 12pm ET when he will discuss domestic violence with Sandra L. Brown, M.A., CEO of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education.  Brown is a psychopathologist, program development specialist, lecturer, and author. Sandra Brown also works closely with Susan Murphy-Milano and Pastor Neil Schori in the development of Document the Abuse utilizing the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit©.

 Listen to the show live www.groups.drew.edu/wmnj

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq”and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers. 

 

Black and Latino in America: The Race to Incarcerate

 

The number of persons in U.S. prisons is more than 2 million—roughly equal to the entire population of Houston, Texas. The massive U.S. prison population does not mirror the demographic profile of U.S. society, however. The vast majority of U.S. prisoners are poor, uneducated, unskilled, emotionally or psychologically troubled, drug and/or alcohol dependent, and either Black or Latino.

The racial disparity between prisoners and the general population is particularly profound.  Blacks and Latinos together comprise less than 30% of the general population but nearly 70% of the prison population!  How can this be?  Conventional–that is, uninformed–wisdom suggests the reason Blacks and Latinos represent the majority of the prison population is that they commit the majority of all crimes in the U.S.  That is simply not the case.  The reality is that Blacks and Latinos are differentially targeted and processed by the U.S. criminal justice system.

Consider these facts: Blacks alone make up 12% of the U.S. population and comprise 14% of all illegal drug users, but they represent 35% of all drug arrests, 55% of all convictions for drug crimes, and 75% of all those who go to prison for drug crimes!  Disturbingly, racial disparity in justice system processing exists for other crimes as well.  The startling statistics reveal that racially biased processing is common throughout the criminal justice system in the U.S.  Perhaps this should not be surprising, however.  After all, one must remember that the police, district attorneys and judges all have tremendous discretion in whom to arrest, prosecute and sentence.

It is time to pull the blindfold off of lady justice and admit that she is not blind after all. She sees quite well, indeed. Her acute but sometimes prejudiced and biased vision unfortunately leads her to differentially target and process many poor Blacks and Latinos.  The result is a prison population that does not fairly or accurately reflect the true picture or color of crime in the U.S.  Let’s put an end to such practices and deliver justice fairly to all citizens.

Tune in for “An hour to kill with Doc Bonn” Friday, October 12, 2012 at 12pm ET when he discusses injustices in the criminal justice system with special guest, Dr. Kesha Moore, Professor of Sociology at Drew University and expert in race, urban neighborhoods and community development.  Listen live: http://groups.drew.edu/wmnj/

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq,” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers. Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter.

 

 

What can we do about the serious bullying problem in the U.S.?

 

 

 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  Recognizing that bullying is the leading source of violence in U.S. schools, it is important that we all understand the dangers of bullying, as well as, where and how to get help.

 

What causes bullying?

Bullying is a behavior that is often learned in response to stresses in the bully’s world. These stresses can include strained parental relationships or abuse, poor academic performance, unsupportive peer networks or anxiety regarding physical appearance. While bullies give off the appearance of confidence, it is often the case that their actions are driven by insecurities.

 

Harassing and overpowering others gives bullies a sense of superiority, making up for the lack of control in some other part of their lives. Surprisingly, many bullies are often motivated to abuse others because they have been victims of abusive behavior. The anger that they feel as a result of being hurt is directed toward other individuals.

What effect does bullying have on children?

 

Every day children suffer the devastating consequences that result from bullying in our schools. Bullying affects not only the children involved, but also has a negative impact on the entire school environment. Bystanders who witness bullying may either fear that they will be the next victims or deduce that this abusive behavior is tolerable.

Bullying causes both short and long term damage related to:

  • Mental Health: shame, fear, low self-esteem, depression, and suicide
  • Physical Problems: obvious bruises or wounds from harassment, sleep disruptions, bed wetting, psychosomatic pains
  • Social Difficulty: inappropriate social behavior, social isolation, inaccurate social perceptions
  • School Setting: difficulty concentrating, poor academic performance, absenteeism, overall school climate and breakdown of school connectedness, escalating school violence
  • Society: alcohol and drug abuse, gang involvement, violence and crime

Bullying is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. Statistics show that:

  • When asked about the major issues affecting youth today, more 8-15 year olds picked bullying than those who picked drugs, alcohol, racism, AIDS or peer pressure to have sex.
  • Victims of bullying are 5 times more likely to be depressed than their non-victimized peers.
  • Bullied boys are 4 times more likely to be suicidal and bullied girls are 8 times more likely to be suicidal than those who have not been affected by bullying.

The problem has become so serious that bullying has been increasingly considered as a public health issue plaguing our entire nation. Approximately 60% of the boys in grades 6-9 who are classified as bullies are later convicted of at least one crime by the time they are 24 years old and 40% have three or more convictions. It is imperative that we address bullying with school-age children in an effort to keep our schools and streets safer.

General advice for parents

 

As a parent you have the power to help your children whether they are being bullied or victimizing others. When faced with bullying, children need the support from an adult they feel comfortable confiding in. Although you may be unable to directly monitor the situation in your child’s school, you are not powerless. You can be the support your child needs and the voice calling for change in your child’s school.

Specific advice for parents:

  • Spend quality time with your child at home. Talk and listen to them.
  • Be a positive role model and surround you child with other positive role models. Respect others and stand up for yourself when people don’t respect you.
  • Teach your child at an early age not to be a bystander.  Encourage your child to tell a bully to stop, to de-escalate the situation (where appropriate) or to walk away and get help from an adult.  Teach your child that it is never appropriate to: 1) put down others, 2) escalate situations by responding “in-kind” to bullies, or 3) allow others to take videos/photos of personal moments or compromising situations.
  • Help your child to feel good about himself or herself in a healthy way. Encourage your child to set and reach goals.
  • Use positive discipline and teach non-violence.  Teach that using violence to solve problems or deal with anger only makes things worse.
  • If you’re worried about your child or yourself, seek help from school counselors, school support groups, private therapists or your family health-care provider.

To learn what you can do as parents or concerned citizens and for immediate help go to http://www.stopbullying.gov/

Dr. Scott Bonnis Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers.  He is deeply concerned about the dangers of bullying. He is @DocBonn on Twitter.   

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers