The Victims: An Article of Awareness 

Elizabeth “Eth” Hyman 

Staff Writer

Before I begin, welcome back to campus, all. This opening line will be the most cheerful thing in this whole article so I ask that you proceed with caution and mindfulness. 

Trigger Warning: Violence, Murder, Victimization, Current Events

Just two weeks ago, I finished Lionel Dahmer’s book “A Father’s Story.” The last name Dahmer is a name we recognize all too well. It is in this autobiographical novel from Jeffrey Dahmer’s father that we hear some of the most depressing and nefarious goings-on in the life of a very calculated and very twisted individual. Many times I sat up in my chair, unable to look away from the honest revelations of a removed parent, who is ever searching for the method in which his son achieved madness, and coming up short time and time again. Lionel never directly attributes one cause for his son’s actions, but instead offers multiple hypotheses. All the while, I couldn’t help but read on. I felt awful, I felt judgemental, I felt…sick. Who was I to indulge in all this knowledge and simply pursue an interest while so many had suffered. This book, this knowledge, all of it were the remains of broken families, including both the Dahmers, and the multitudes of families that Jeffrey decimated. Too many parents without children, too many sisters without brothers, and here I was (a sister with brothers herself, a sibling in general) reading about it, unable to sit with any of them and ask, “How does this make you feel? How do you make peace with all this? Or can you at all?” 

Was I being curious or negligent in my sensitivities? Are WE as a society negligent in this? The short answer is “yes,” but the longer answer is “yes, and it’s seemingly unavoidable.” 

With the recent release of Netflix‘s new miniseries “Dahmer,” many of us are left to decide what ethical standard we’re gonna hold ourselves to. To watch or not to watch? Many families of victims were disgusted to know there was yet ANOTHER show that would never allow them to fully heal. How could we do such a thing?

Now I’ll be the first to admit, I watched the show. The whole thing. I was enamored with it. The show, the book, the case, the interviews, the tapes, the parents, the “behind-the-scenes,” you name it. Rarely did I stop and consider the victims. At least, not NEARLY as much as I should have, thus prompting this article. Though monsters like Jeffrey Dahmer take up most of the limelight (whether they should or not is something I could talk about for HOURS, mind you…), we simply don’t care about the victims. Most of us don’t even know something as basic as their names! Yet everyone knows Dahmer, what he did, his failed jobs and aspirations, his drinking problem, Hell, even his hometown…but who knows Konorak Sinthasimphone, one of the youngest of Dahmer’s victims, who came from immigrant roots and a loving family? No one knew his hometown. No one knew his dreams, or his favorite food, or what he wanted to be when he grew up. Just like no one knew Steven Hicks, Steven Tuomi, Jamie Doxtater, Richard Guerrero, Anthony Sears, Raymond Smith, Edward Smith, Ernest Miller, David Thomas, Curtis Straughter, Errol Lindsay, Tony Hughes, Matt Turner, Jeremiah Weinberger, Oliver Lacy, and Joseph Bradehoft. Any and of all these names are known to you simply because of their connection to their killer. Even as I write this, I feel insensitive, all of these names are human beings, not just a lousy list. Every name you see was someone with feelings, somebody loved them. As I type this, for something as simple as a newspaper, I feel my eyes get hazy with tears, I feel guilty. What about them? Did their families get to write a book? Did their families get fairly compensated? Did their families get a “Hard Copy” special and a kind word of condolences? I doubt it. 

This goes beyond Dahmer, or any killer. Any crisis, really. We MUST acknowledge the victims. Bring back your sensitivity and make your curiosity secondary. If we really wanted to (and I do, because it matters), we could tie this into today’s newsworthy violence. Everyone remembers the name of the school shooter, but no one will know the name of the teacher who saved his or her classroom from a gunman. No one knows the mom or dad that will never see their first grader again. No one knows the A/B honor roll student who had their life ripped away. 

The point of all of this is SENSITIVITY. Put yourself at the mercy of your morals, then everyone will be remembered. 

*Credit to the list of names goes to “Women’s Health” magazine; below is the link where the names can be found. To the families of both the guilty and the innocent, I wish you everlasting peace. -Elizabeth Hyman

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