They Had it Coming: The Troubled Life of Aileen Wuornos

*Trigger Warning*: Sexual abuse, child abuse

Aileen Wuornos is known as the “Damsel of Death”, the “Highway Hooker from Hell”, among many other monstrous titles. Taking a step back these names and claims of her maniacal murders were all given by men. Most documentaries about Wuornos were directed, produced, and written by men. Her story would be perceived drastically different if someone telling her story was a women and better yet a sex worker.

Her traumatic childhood is often left out of her story but shows the many layers she contains and abuse she endured. She never met her father who was in prison before she was born serving time for kidnapping and sodomizing a child. Her mother abandoned her and her brother who were eventually raised by her grandparents.

By 11 her grandfather had been molesting her for years and she began having sex with neighborhood boys including her brother. She would have sex in return for cigarettes and spare change. By 13 she became pregnant and delivers the baby at a house for unwed mothers. Her son is given up for adoption immediately. At 15 she drops out of high school and hitchhikes from Michigan down to Florida supporting herself through sex work.

At 20 she has a 9 month marriage to a 69 year old wealthy yacht club president. He claims she beat him with his cane and annulled the marriage. The next 10 years Wuornos finds herself in and out jail for robbing, car theft, forgery, resisting arrest, and obstruction of peace.

The film “Monster” by Director Stacy Jenkins begins telling Wuornos story at this stage right before she meets her girlfriend Tyria Moore. She begins killing abusive clients and robbing them to support her new lover. This film did an excellent job at humanizing Aileen Wuornos and showing her side of the story. Her claims in court of being sexually and physically abused by her victims fell silent in real life but were vocalized and expressed in this film. I believe this film differs so much from the others and shows Wuornos in a different light because it was created mostly by women.

1 thought on “They Had it Coming: The Troubled Life of Aileen Wuornos

  1. I remember watching Monster and feeling like I was getting a completely new side to this story. Glad you included how narration can differ when a story about a woman is being told by a woman versus a man.

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