Mar 30, 2023

Understanding Victim-Centered True Crime: Empathy and Awareness in Narratives

The true crime genre has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, evolving from sensationalized tales of criminal acts to more nuanced and empathetic narratives that focus on the experiences and voices of victims. This evolution has given rise to the concept of victim-centered true crime, a genre that seeks to prioritize the stories and perspectives of those affected by crime. In this blog post, we will delve into the essence of victim-centered true crime, its importance, and how it contributes to fostering empathy, awareness, and a more respectful approach to storytelling.

Defining victim-centered true crime

Victim-centered true crime is a subgenre within the broader true crime category that places victims at the forefront of the narrative. Rather than solely focusing on the criminal acts, investigations, or the criminal’s perspective, victim-centered true crime seeks to give a voice to those who have suffered due to these acts. This approach aims to humanize the victims, moving beyond the stereotypes and sensationalism that have often characterized traditional true crime stories.

Empathy and empowerment

At the heart of victim-centered true crime is the emphasis on empathy and empowerment. By centering the narrative around the victims, storytellers aim to create a deeper connection between the audience and those affected by crime. This empathetic engagement encourages readers, viewers, and listeners to step into the shoes of the victims, enabling them to understand the emotional and psychological toll of the crime.

Moreover, victim-centered true crime provides an opportunity for survivors and their families to reclaim their narratives. By sharing their stories in their own words, victims regain a sense of agency and control over how their experiences are portrayed. This empowerment can be crucial in the healing process, as it allows them to break free from the often dehumanizing depictions found in traditional true crime narratives.

Moving beyond sensationalism

One of the key criticisms of traditional true crime stories is their tendency to sensationalize the crimes and perpetrators while often neglecting the victims’ stories. This sensationalism can lead to a distorted perception of crime, perpetuating myths and stereotypes that ultimately hinder our understanding of the complexities surrounding criminal acts.

Victim-centered true crime aims to counteract this trend by providing a balanced portrayal of the events, focusing on the aftermath and the resilience of survivors. By acknowledging the human side of the victims and the challenges they face, this genre challenges the narrative status quo and encourages a more thoughtful and respectful approach to storytelling.

Promoting awareness and prevention

In addition to fostering empathy, victim-centered true crime plays a crucial role in raising awareness about crime and its impacts on individuals and communities. By shedding light on the real-life consequences of criminal acts, these narratives can serve as cautionary tales that promote awareness and prevention.

When audiences become more aware of the emotional and psychological toll of crime on victims, they are more likely to recognize the importance of proactive measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place. This could include advocating for improved safety measures, supporting initiatives aimed at preventing violence, and engaging in community efforts to address the root causes of criminal behavior.

A holistic approach to justice

Victim-centered true crime also aligns with a more holistic approach to justice. Traditionally, the criminal justice system has focused primarily on the apprehension and punishment of offenders, often leaving victims and their needs sidelined. By prioritizing the victims’ experiences and perspectives, victim-centered true crime prompts a shift towards a justice system that takes into account the emotional, psychological, and social repercussions of crime on all parties involved.


Victim-centered true crime represents a significant shift in the landscape of true crime storytelling. By placing victims at the heart of the narrative, this subgenre challenges sensationalism, fosters empathy, and promotes awareness. It empowers survivors to reclaim their stories while encouraging a more comprehensive approach to justice—one that addresses the emotional toll of crime alongside its legal implications. As audiences engage with victim-centered true crime narratives, they not only gain a deeper understanding of the human side of crime but also contribute to a culture of empathy and respect in storytelling.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Receive job opportunities, webinars from true crime experts, and supplementary resources for your true crime career. Unsubscribe anytime.