Why Do We Hate Women Who Survive Violent Crimes?

They’re not the villains of the story

Annabelle Wagner

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Memorial dedicated to Chapin, Kernodle, Mogen, and Goncalves

Edgar Allan Poe once wrote, “The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.” He also married his thirteen-year-old cousin when he was twenty-seven, so maybe we don’t need to take everything he says with such authority (although The Tell-Tale Heart is a banger, I’ll give him that).

The death of a woman, no matter her perceived attractiveness, is a terrible tragedy, more than just fodder for some emotional boy’s bad poetry. . .or, in this specific incident I’m about to discuss, the true crime community’s wild speculations.

Two months ago, in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving break, four University of Idaho students were tragically murdered as they slept in their off-campus house. The students — Madison Mogen, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin — were stabbed to death by a suspect (now identified as Bryan Kohberger) who had broken into their house between 4 and 4:30 am.

People were understandably horrified by the brutality of the crime, and many mourned the deaths of these four promising young adults. But of course, along with the expected outpouring of grief from the community, the fear that a killer was living amongst them, came a slew of half-baked conspiracy theories regarding the killings, à la the online true crime community.

Amateur sleuths and self-proclaimed psychics came out of the woodwork to offer their thoughts on the crime, showing little to no regard for the victims’ families or any accuracy regarding the case. One TikTok user even went so far as to accuse a University of Idaho professor of the murder with absolutely no proof to back up her claim.

But one of the most disturbing, cold-hearted things I’ve witnessed throughout this whole ordeal? The treatment of the survivors.

There were two more people in the house that night, two young women who remain unnamed (probably rightfully so, considering the vitriol they have received online). Both were unharmed (physically, at least) and didn’t call the police until almost noon later in the day when they discovered the bodies. Additionally, after Kohberger was arrested, one of the roommates admitted to hearing some…

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Annabelle Wagner

Storyteller. Lover of cats. Holding a BA in English/Creative Writing from Point Park University. She/her.