Why is it that many sensible and responsible women are attracted to men with dark personalities? Common sense says women prefer men who say and do the right things. Nevertheless, women often can’t help but find the bad ones utterly appealing and irresistible.
Obsession with serial killers is nothing new. Neither are romantic fantasies. Ted Bundy, who killed and raped women, drew scores of women to the jammed courtrooms of his trials each day, he received hundreds of love letters and marriage proposals while he was incarcerated. Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer and cannibal had amorous women sending him love letters, money and gifts.
Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer are not the only ones. In 2014, the mugshot of convicted felon Jeremy Meeks made him an overnight sensation among women, despite his long criminal record. Unmistakably, his piercing blue eyes and chiselled looks might have something to do with it.
Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, was an American serial killer. During the 80s he sought out mostly African-American gay men and lured them home to his grandmother’s basement with promises of money and sex. There he would sedate them with drugs mixed in alcohol, strangle them and have sex with the corpse or masturbate on it. Dahmer had a collection of human trophies, dismembering his victims and keeping their genitals or skulls as mementos.
There are dozens of secret groups on Facebook where people with similar interests gather. From that kind of secret group, which often gets reported and closed, I found two women who both shared an obsession with Jeffrey Dahmer.
A girl who asked to identify herself only as Val was reluctant to share too many details. "I have hybristophilia [a person who is attracted to men who commit extreme crimes, such as rape and murder]," she says. "I love Jeff [Dahmer]. If I could, I would bring him back and take care of him, because I understand and love him."
32-year-old Mischa says she doesn't go to extremes when it comes to Dahmer and things in real life are important too.
"He looks very good. And his smile is adorable. And in his eyes, I could read so much. It may sound strange, but I feel close to him. Because he and I suffer from the same mental illness [antisocial personality and borderline personality disorder]. With the difference – he exploded and I imploded. I can understand what he did and why. It doesn't mean I support what he did. I just know how it feels to be lonely with demons inside your head. And I know what it means to hide yourself because you can't share the things you have on your mind."
Like many others, Mischa hand makes crafts as a tribute to Jeff. "I wear them sometimes. Most people don't recognize him. I don't sell them. I just made a necklace for a friend who is a Dahmer fan too," she explained.
Mischa and her friend have known each other for a long time. "Most of my SK [serial killer] friends are online. And from all over the world. It's interesting. I call them my family. We Skype, we phone and maybe one day we can meet each other."
Many people create fake profiles or second accounts to take part in these communities, something Facebook is actively trying to fight with their real name policy, in order to escape the criticism from their peers and public. "It was a secret for a long time. But now I don't hide my 'hobby' anymore. A lot of friends and family members broke contact with me" reveals Mischa, when asked if her close ones know about the obsession.
I ask her if Dahmer was alive and she had a chance to talk with him, what she would say.
"I can understand you. I maybe know how you must feel. And you don't need rum, coke and sleeping pills to make me stay. I think I have so many questions, but in the first minutes I wouldn't know what to say."
"I would like to be a friend. A real friend. Someone he can speak to without getting judged or misunderstood. Someone who stays with him. I don't know if I would bring him back. If I would do it, then because of the reason to get help for him."
She ends the interview by telling me what she would say to her critics.
"I respect their opinion. But they should respect our opinions too. If the critics asked in a friendly manner, 'Guys, you all like serial killers. Would someone please explain why? I want to understand' you can be sure I would spend enough time to explain why."