A&E’s ‘I Survived a Crime’ Looks at People Who Were Attacked — & Made It Out Alive
A&E’s latest crime series, I Survived a Crime, hosted by ABC News’ Gio Benitez, turns the genre on its head. It not only brings viewers into each victim’s experiences, it focuses on how they each came out on the other side.
The show includes the attacks themselves — via rough surveillance and cell phone footage — how each person then protected themselves (and in some cases their families), and then looks at the potential long-lasting effects.
“When [survivors] watch these clips, some say, ‘I found strength in watching that again,'” Benitez tells TV Insider. “They know how they were feeling and what they were thinking at that exact moment. There are others who don’t want to watch it again and haven’t.”
Below, Benitez shares how the series showed him human are “programmed to survive,” how an increase in surveillance cameras make catching crimes possible, and more.
The series is almost terrifying to watch.
Gio Benitez: I know, some of the clips just really make you wonder what you would do if you were in that situation, right? We’ve shot quite a few episodes now and seen so many different clips and talked to so many of these people. I still don’t know what I would do. One of the things that’s most interesting is you see the human instinct to survive.
Is that part of what you wanted to show?
One-hundred percent. One of things we ask people is why they reacted the way they did. A lot of them will tell us, “We had no idea we would react this way.” We also make sure to highlight how police think people should react. Obviously, you’re going to see things in there they don’t necessarily recommend, and we hope the show is also a real learning tool for a lot of people who are watching, about how they should be reacting at least according to law enforcement.
You speak with the survivors about where they’re at now.
It’s really important to capture the strength and resilience of the human spirit. This past year with COVID-19, people are going through such hard times — not necessarily crimes like these — and I hope the show can at least give them some hope that even in traumatic moments, we as humans are programmed to survive and we will get through this.
Is that what you’re hoping people take away from the series?
Yes, and many of these cases will touch the human heart in a really strong way. It’s really fascinating to hear from some of these survivors who say, “I’m actually not angry and I forgive this person.” In some cases you’re even going to see people afterwards saying, “I calmed down in the middle of it because I noticed something on that guy’s backpack and I realized he was a kid, and I started wondering what was going on in his life that was sending him here today.” That is so fascinating because these are people who have gone through such traumatic events and yet here they are, empathizing with the perpetrator.
When we speak with these survivors, we want to make sure they do not feel like victims. They feel like survivors and came out of this stronger. They have a vested interest in making sure that message is portrayed properly. We’re asking them to relive their darkest moments and we don’t take that lightly.
The crimes themselves are so visceral because of the surveillance and cell phone footage.
There’s no other time in history we could do a show like this, because you’re seeing in full HD all of these things going on. There’s one case where we marry the surveillance video with the 9-1-1 call, so you are watching and hearing this happen in real time in a way that we probably never would have been able to do before. It’s because there are so many cameras everywhere. Most of the cases, it’s not people putting themselves in danger and recording something.
There’s one particular case where you have this little girl who is recording this incident and you hear [how emotional she is], you see her phone shaking because she’s so scared, but she’s in a safe place. We obviously do not want to encourage people to be doing something that is unsafe by recording these incidents.
I Survived a Crime, Series Premiere, Wednesday, February 17, 10/9c, A&E