The #EngageWithEmpathy Campaign unites survivors of true crime, supporters, & content creators as we make the difficult journey for those struggling with loss a little more bearable
To offer support and solace to those struggling with loss and trauma.
To educate content creators on the lasting effects their content has on those who have the most at stake in the stories they cover.
To educate the public on how to identify responsible and ethical true crime content.
To engage the true crime community on issues important to victims and families left behind in the wake of these tragedies.
Fred Murray, photo by Leslie Grima
What does it mean? As a person living alongside ambiguous loss, where ambivalence reigns and emotional closure is impossible, I’m here to tell you – #EngagingWithEmpathy means everything! For families like mine, living each day with the lingering sense of grief and unknowing that accompanies a missing loved one creates a mountain of heartache that gets bigger and more insurmountable over time. A stark contrast to the notion that time heals all. Time does not heal all wounds. Our grief is frozen and closure is unattainable. #EngageWithEmpathy means putting yourself in our position for just a minute, how would you like to be treated? How would you like your missing loved one to be treated? It doesn’t mean censorship, it means balancing the value with the potential harm caused by exploiting private citizens with the worst days of their lives. Listen, we are all struggling with some real difficult stuff, treating people with empathy can make a world of difference.
CHALLENGE TO CONTENT CREATORS AND TRUE CRIME COMMUNITY.
True crime exists because of our tragedies and there is inherent responsibility to handle them with C.A.R.E. by:
CENTER THE VICTIM: Centering the victims and those with the most at stake, balancing public interest with potential harm.
AVOID HARMFUL SPECULATION: Consumers drive this industry, vote with your clicks. Ask if this content furthers the case or simply entertains.
RESEARCH RESPONSIBLY: Be critical and curious of content, the veracity of sourcing, and do not accept subjective interpretations as indisputable fact. This helps eliminate the harmful proliferation of misinformation.
ENGAGE WITH EMPATHY: Victims and families did not choose these tragic paths. Engaging them with a level of sensitivity is crucial in order to prevent exploitation and unfair public indictments of innocent people.
What are people saying about the #EngageWithEmpathy Campaign? "Mind Over Murder" co-hosts Bill Thomas and Kristin Dilley discuss the "Engage with Empathy" campaign. Can true crime podcasters, reporters and users of social media interact with the families of murder victims in a more responsible and respectful manner? Are ethics in true crime too much to ask? Can we engage with empathy?
Kathleen at Wells River Motel, VT
How do you #EngageWithEmpathy?The internet can be a dark and dangerous place especially for the vulnerable. Take my family for instance, private citizens whose deeply personal struggles and trauma exploited online without compassion, without context, and without consent. Struggles with addiction, mental health, personal relationships – private matters made public simply because our loved one went missing. The ripple effect of this type of exploitation has no bounds and is everlasting. My late sister Kathleen was deeply ashamed and embarrassed when her struggles with addiction were flippantly used as internet fodder - true crime content - it exacerbated her problem, sending her deeper into a dark abyss. Some of the tweets and blog posts were taken down years later, but the damage done to Kathleen can never be deleted. My eyes fill up with tears when I think about it. I stood by her bedside when she passed, thinking how Kathleen would go to her grave not ever knowing Maura’s fate and I would go to mine never fully knowing the deep sense of shame and immeasurable harm that came as the result of her private struggles made public by strangers and true crime enthusiasts. As a true crime consumer, you can help change this disturbing trend, and prevent what happened to Kathleen from happening to other family members who want nothing more than to find their missing loved one. I encourage consumers to vote with their clicks and engagement online. Keeping the motto #EngageWithEmpathy as your guiding light. If it feels slimy, don’t consume the content – it’s that simple. Publishing Kathleen’s private struggles with addiction did nothing to further the case; it did, however, cause irreparable damage to her and my entire family.
CHALLENGE TO TRUE CRIME SURVIVORS.
Remember that you are not alone. You have a community of fellow survivors and advocates, starting with my family, standing by willing to help.
You have a voice and it matters.
It is okay not to be okay sometimes. Be kind to yourself and protect your energy.
Everyone in my family, including Maura, has been hurt, exploited, and re-traumatized by individuals who did not #EngageWithEmpathy. We can’t change that and holding ill will against others doesn’t solve the greater problem. That’s why our approach is to treat people with respect, listen, understand and #EngageWithEmpathy to help make this extremely difficult journey for others struggling with loss just a little bit more bearable.