Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Leigh M. Moscowitz

Abstract

This audience reception study qualitatively examines women who identify as both domestic violence survivors and fans of true crime podcasts. Using a feminist, critical cultural lens, this study explores why these women are drawn to these podcasts and how the content presented intersects with their lived experiences as domestic violence survivors. Employing a multi-method approach, I interviewed 16 women who listen to true crime podcasts and identify as domestic violence survivors as well as six hosts/producers of true crime podcast media and conducted an in-depth narrative analysis on one of the most popular podcasts mentioned by my participants. Sixteen in-depth qualitative interviews with audience members reveal six major themes: love of a good story, uniqueness of audio media, the educational value of true crime podcasts, connection to lived experiences, the potential therapeutic role of true crime narratives, and the community connections forged by listening to true crime podcasts.

Ultimately, I found that the female domestic violence survivors in true crime podcast audiences are using this emerging media in unprecedented ways and challenging the patriarchal nature of the criminal justice system and media’s traditional coverage of domestic violence. My participants demonstrated that they have formed a collective identity and a virtual community where their voices are heard, their stories are normalized, and that they are collaborating with true crime podcasters to process their own trauma and educate others about the reality of their lived experiences.

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