Explaining the Family Life Behind the Ferociously Minded

The topic of family life is usually conversed about in a positive manner; however, coming from a rough family life has proved to negatively affect people’s in gruesome ways.


Valerie Rosek

When parental figures have a history of crimes, the behavior can often be passed onto offspring.

There are multitudes of success stories of those who were able to dig themselves out of the rut that was their childhood. Alexander Hamilton was born out of wedlock and later abandoned by his father, but he continued on to become a Founding Father of The United States of America. Oprah Winfrey was raped and beaten as a child, yet she has become a successful journalist, talk show host and philanthropist. Some may say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”; yet, there are arguable circumstances where one is not able to leave a bad situation unharmed. 

The level at which people identify with their families differs greatly. Some may have a distant relationship, consisting of mainly minor interactions and harmless conversations. On the other hand, some may be lost without the daily support of their family.

“In a strong family, everyone communicates with each other about where they are going, what they are doing and even just to talk to each other and see how someone’s day is,” criminal justice Lake County Tech Campus Student junior Reese Mercer said. 

According to Mercer, lacking these family values (and more) can lead to a disconnect, and possibly a hatred, among family members. An unhealthy relationship at a young age with a family member can set a precedent for all one’s future relationships and interactions. The environment in which people are raised can leave a lasting impact on them for the rest of their life. Family life is a leading factor in the development of a human being.

According to uniteforsight.org, children who grow up in unstable families are more likely to exhibit risky behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse and drug abuse. These habits can develop as a result of witnessing parental figures partake in or resort to substance abuse to cope with mental illnesses. Living conditions that may include irritable or quarreling parents, exposure to violence or abuse at home show correlation with mental and physical health problems in one’s childhood that can last into adulthood.

“When kids grow up with parents with substance abuse problems, I feel like they are more likely to get the same problems,” senior Gavin Eldridge said.

On a larger scale, unhealthy family lives can lead to a bigger problem: murder. Multiple sources of research have shown a common trend among many famous killers; those who have committed murder have likely had a rough childhood and shaky relationships with their parents. According to bowiestate.libguides.com, many serial killers come from unstable families with criminal, psychiatric or alcoholic histories. Many of these serial killers’ first victims were family members.

Evidence of correlation between family life and homicide can be observed by looking into the childhood’s of serial killers. WatchMojo.com lists their “Top Ten Serial Killers with Awful Upbringings”; this list includes killers such as Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy and, topping the list at number one, Aileen Wuornos.

Wuornos was born to a married teenage couple in 1956. However, her mother abandoned her before Wuornos was six months old; her father committed suicide in jail when she was four years old. Wuornos was then left to live with her alcoholic grandmother and abusive grandfather. By the age of 13, Wuornos had been raped and was pregnant; by the age of 14, Wuornos had quit school, been kicked out of her house and had turned to prostitution on the streets. 

Later in Wuornos’ life, she became the first well-known female serial killer. 

Wuornos claimed the reason she had murdered seven men was in self-defense, although she had lured them in using her sale of prostitution. A possible motive for Wuornos’ actions could be her firm hatred for men, possibly stemming from unhealthy relationships with men early in her life: her father committing suicide and her grandfather raping her.

There is no definite answer to how much one’s family life affects one’s mental health and development. Some have successfully grown beyond their past; on the other hand, some are not able to heal the hypothetical scars they grew up cutting.