Friday, January 13, 2012

Revenge: A dish best served cold...

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Revenge... A/K/A Getting Even

Revenge is Sweet (31 pics)
Image via Acid Cow
The passion for revenge is strong and sometimes almost overwhelming. But our intuitive logic about revenge is often twisted, conflicted, parochial, and dangerous. Revenge is a primitive, destructive, andviolent response to anger, injury, or humiliation. It is a misguided attempt to transform shame into pride
Many governments, religions, traditions, and cultures provide guidance on when revenge may and may not be sought. Unfortunately this guidance is often unsatisfactory because it excludes groups of people, often mistreats women, generally leads to escalation, is unevenly applied, and typically leads to prolonged and escalated violence. Choose another path.


The desire to get even,
Retaliation for injury, loss, or humiliation,
An attempt to transform shame into pride.
Seeking symmetrical injury, harm, or loss

Roots: from revengier : re- + vengier, from Latin vindicāre, to avenge again, vindicate.
Revenge is directed passionately at a specific target with the intent of doing them harm because you believethey have intentionally done you harm. It is the dark side of reciprocity.
Defending honor, getting even, pay back, reprisal, retribution, retaliation, revanche, vengeance, vendetta, vindication, and avenging a wrong are all synonyms for revenge Although competition has its roots in vengeance, it can be satisfied constructively through organized sports and other formalized contests. 

Related terms

Revenge is the hurtful side of reciprocity, and many terms are related to the concept.
Justice is a state-sponsored formal approach to revenge under the law. It establishes the sovereign state as the only legitimate agent of violence. It is not always satisfactory because it is impersonal, imperfect, and substantially delayed. Many people believe that OJ Simpson literally got away with murder, while innocent people are put to death by the state.
Deterrence is a dispassionate response calculated to change the other's behavior in an on-going relationship or negotiation by imposing a negative consequence (punishment) for their decision. The judge sentences the criminal as a deterrent, not to seek revenge. It is nothing more than equivalent retaliation in a calculated game of Tit-for-Tat. Deterrence is cerebral and “just business”; revenge is visceral and personal.
Reprisal is a retaliation for an injury with the intent of inflicting at least as much injury in return.
Retribution: a measured or restrained reprisal; a proportional response intended to communicate a message: “this is how wrong your actions were”.
Reparations are payments intended to compensate a victim for a loss. While these may be largely effective in repairing the damages resulting from loss or theft of material goods, it is impossible to restore a lost life, a physical injury, loss of health, destruction of unique objects or those with sentimental value, or a missed opportunity such as a successful career or time spent with a loved one. It is also difficult to restore lost pride. The goal of reparations is to keep promises and restore a damaged community.
Remorse is feeling genuinely bad about the hurt I have caused and I take responsibility for the hurtful choices I made.
Atonement is remorse followed by reparations. It is similar to apology.
Retaliation is the idea of fair payback, often expressed as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and is captured in traditions such as the Talionic Code. The concept is to cause as much pain to the aggressor as he has caused you to suffer. Unfortunately the magnitude gap—the fact that pain felt is more intense than pain inflicted—often causes the violence of the retaliation to exceed that of the original offense. Unending escalation, destruction, and violence often results. Also, because many losses cannot be restored or undone, the retaliation does not provide satisfying reparations to the victim.
Vengeance is pursuing harm to your offender as retaliation for the wrong you perceive they caused. It is a passionate desire for revenge.
Avenging a wrong is pursing revenge to punish those who you hold responsible for a loss to yourself, or someone else you respect.
A Vendetta is an on-going private feud where the members of the family of a murdered person seek to avenge the murder by killing the slayer or one of the slayer's relatives.
Money accepted as reparations for physical injury or death may be called “blood money.” This reflects the belief of some that reparations for physical injury or death are never sufficient unless they include violence to the offender.
Reconciliation is the process of letting go of revenge. It usually requires forgiveness.

The Paradox of Revenge

Revenge originates from the primal need for self-defense. In today's world, it is often abused as a destructive and futile response to anger or humiliation. Exhaust all alternatives before considering revenge, and use revenge only if it is your only effective self-defense. Why do you believe it is your only alternative? Why do you believe it will be effective? Describe why you believe revenge addresses the cause and will have the effect you want.
Most strategies for revenge fail because they attempt to change the past. Unfortunately once the damage is done and the injury, insult, humiliation, or other loss occurs, the clock cannot be turned back and the loss is permanent. In addition, the value of the loss to the offended is seen as much greater than any benefit gained by the offender. As a result the offense represents an unrecoverable loss to society as a whole. Successful strategies for revenge look far into the future and recognize that the cycle of vengeance and retaliation can only spiral toward tragedy and are best stopped before they are started.
Revenge is a doomed attempt to eliminate shame and increase stature by asserting dominance. It fails because asserting dominance does not increase stature, instead it usually increases violence. Also, remorsecannot be coerced, it has to be discovered.
Evidence indicates that forgiveness increases self-esteem and decreases anxiety.

Sunk Costs

Economics and business decision-making recognize sunk costs as the costs that have already been incurred and which can never be recovered to any significant degree. Economic theory proposes that a rational actor does not let sunk costs influence a decision because past costs cannot be recovered in any case. This is also called the bygones principle; let bygones be bygones. This recognizes that you cannot change the past. The fallacy of sunk costs is to consider sunk costs when making a decision. Sound business decisions are based on a forward-looking view, ignoring sunk costs.
Revenge is an attempt to recover sunk costs; it is an example of the sunk costs fallacy. Forgiveness is a decision to move forward regardless of sunk costs. Sound emotional decisions, like sound business decisions, are based on a forward-looking view.
Why Seek Revenge?
Why do people seek revenge? What are people looking for? What do they hope to accomplish? Why is the passion so strong? People seek revenge when:
They feel they have been attacked and suffered some unjust loss or injury. As a result they are feelinganger, hate, jealousy, envy, or shame.
They are humiliated, especially if they are made to feel powerless, foolish, ridiculous, stupid, orashamed. People seek revenge against the more powerful while they pity the less powerful.
They feel they have to “defend the honor” of themselves, their family, ancestors, or some other group they identify with.
The goal of revenge is to erase shame and humiliation and restore pride.

What people generally want 

from revenge is to:

Restore their dignity, and increase their pride or stature.
Restore the “honor” of the offended group by avenging the shame.
Remember a loved one or ancestor. The slogan “September 11, 2001, we will never forget” is seen frequently and is used to sustain the war on terrorism. War memorials serve a similar purpose. In contrast, consider how the Amish people of Nickels Mines Pennsylvania reacted after five of their children were senselessly murdered. They razed the schoolhouse where the tragedy occurred to remove the most prominent symbol of the tragedy and leave a quiet pasture in its place. Their goal is to forgive and move on.

Teach a lesson to the aggressor...

Punish people who cheat and break rules; ensure they learn their lesson.
Act as a deterrent to predatory behavior,
Obtain acknowledgement from the aggressor that they were wrong and they feel remorse,
Obtain a sincere apology and know the aggressor is remorseful,
Demonstrate their power so they no longer feel powerless,
Obtain reparations; get paid back for their losses, and settle the score
Make the aggressor suffer and feel their pain,
Transform themselves from prey to predator, from powerless to powerful, and from shamed to proud,
Tell their side of the story; set the record straight from their point of view.
All of us have suffered losses. We have all been unlucky, ignored, picked on, overlooked, lied to, betrayed, injured, cheated, trespassed upon, and stolen from. We may have lost our jobs, lost our houses, suffered from disease, lost substantial sums of money, divorced, or been permanently injured. Many of us have been victims of greater injuries such as rape, assault, abuse, death of a spouse or close family member, or violent crime. Our suffering is real, and we are not alone.
Many of these losses were unfair and unjust. We often believe we know who is to blame for much of our loss and suffering. We have been injured and we believe it is our right that things be set right. Persecution, cruelty, attacks, trespass, suffering, hardships, and injury create a great burden for us to bear. It seems only fair that we are compensated for these losses. Our grievances are legitimate. We deserve to be compensated.
We may allow ourselves to submit to urges originating from this life-long accumulation of such grievances. This may result in anger displays, road rage, or other destructive, violent, dramatic and irresponsible behavior. People may feel less responsible for their actions when they can blame someone for their grievances. People whose temperament is dominated by pain are easily provoked to anger or hate. They may be described as “having a chip on their shoulder.” Perhaps they believe they are their suffering.
However, many of our losses are permanent, or not something that others can or will repair. We may be intensely and carefully counting up debts that can never be repaid. Often we simply have to decide to absorb, accept, overlook, and move beyond our loss, without compensation or revenge. Often the best decision is to simply let this pain go, get over it, and move on with our life. Whether or not we are entitled to revenge, it is probably not a constructive path to follow. Often it is best to forgive and forget.

Victim Status

Since only victims seem entitled to revenge, it is essential to claim the mantel of victim before seeking revenge. However, in most protracted conflicts it is difficult to identify the perpetrator and the victim because hostilities escalate gradually over time. Each side feels they have the most valid claim to being the victim. It is rarely clear “who started this”. It often depends on how long ago the salient narrative begins. Often rivalry for most rightful victim status has to be resolved before reconciliation can begin. The victim needs to have their loss validated and their power restored. The perpetrator needs to have their moral status restored. Until deciding who is who, these different needs cannot be effectively met.

The Tragedy of Revenge

In the novel Moby Dick, captain Ahab is obsessed with seeking revenge on the white whale, Moby Dick. His long struggle results in the death and destruction of the entire crew except for Ishmael the storyteller. Unfortunately the destruction described in this fictional account is often too accurate an account of revenge in the real world.
Maytal Khatib was Druze teenager who left her house unescorted one day. When she returned that night she failed to prove to her brother she was still a virgin. Although there was no evidence at all she had sex, her brother strangled her to death to protect the honor of his family, just in case she had lost her virginity that day.
The atrocities of Nazi Germany in World War II are largely attributed to revenge for Germany's humiliation after World War I.

The Paths of Vengeance

Understanding what can trigger our urge to seek revenge, and how we can resolve our concerns constructively helps us to cope with our feelings. The following figure illustrates choices we have and paths we can take to either prolong or resolve the pain and violence. Use this like you would any other map: 1) decide where you are now, 2) decide where you want to go, 3) choose the best path to get there, and 4) go down the chosen path.
This diagram is an example of a type of chart known by systems analysts as a state transition diagram. Each colored elliptical bubble represents a state of being that represents the way you are now. The labels on the arrows represent actions or events and the arrows show paths into or out of each state. You are at one place on this chart for one particular relationship or incident at any particular time. Other people are likely to be in other places on the chart. This is similar to an ordinary road map where you plot where you are now, while other people are at other places on the same map. Begin the analysis at the green “OK” bubble, or wherever else you believe you are now.
OK: This is the beginning or neutral state. It corresponds to your being content and not contemplating revenge. The green color represents safety, tranquility, equanimity, and growth potential.
Insult: We were OK until something happened to provoked our hurt, shame, or humiliation. Although the cause could be any number of things, perhaps we were humiliated, we will use the term “insult” to describe any of these provocations. After reflection and reappraisal, the offender who made the original insult may decide it was unjustified and could later feel shame or guilt for his attack.
Humiliation: Your ego is bruised, your pride is hurt, and now you are mad as hell! You have just been humiliated, and you don't like feeling foolish. The orange color represents the danger and potential violencethat often results from humiliation.
Forgiven: Even though you have not been offered an apology, you decide to let go of the hurt. You forgive and gain a serene inner peace and satisfaction for yourself.
Apology Accepted: The offender offers an effective apology. You feel vindicated because he has acknowledged his responsibility in causing your harm.
Legal Recourse: Work within the laws of your local, regional, national, and international governments and the by-laws of your organization to address your grievances. 
Constructive Revenge: Decide to better yourself to clearly demonstrate your stature is superior to your adversary's.
Revenge: I attack and injure you in an attempt to transform my shame into pride.
Avenged: I feel pride, at least momentarily, because I have demonstrated my courage and wit by taking bold action against you. The yellow color represents the danger from the retaliation that is likely to follow.
Retaliation: Your adversary strikes back in response to your revenge. This retaliation often escalates the hostilities and violence because of the magnitude gap—inflicting harm is more painful to the victim than it is satisfying to the aggressor.
Constructive Action
While many cultures provide guidance for seeking revenge, most of it is conflicted, incomplete, and destructive. For example the advice to seek “an eye for an eye” is heard as often as the advice to “turn the other cheek”. A complete, coherent, and constructive system for seeking revenge would have these characteristics:
It would serve to reduce violence globally; in the short term, in the long term, within the group and outside of the group,
It would lead to a constructive solution of the problems faced by the victims and the aggressors.
It would increase the stature of everyone involved and reduce their humiliation, anger, and hate.
It would be finite; the revenge seeking, the pain, the hurt, and the retaliations would end quickly, permanently, and in a way that is satisfactory to all. It would lead to a de-escalation of hostilities in the short term and the long term.
It balances the needs of all parties, and grants autonomy to women on a par with men.
It works both locally and globally to create satisfactory solutions within the family, village, nation, and around the globe.
It recognizes the past cannot be changed and we have only the present and the future.
The best approach I am aware of is to continue a constructive dialogue with the aggressor; work to understand each person's point-of-view, humanity, dignity, and needs. Increase empathy; both of the aggressor for the victim and of the victim for the aggressor. Continue the dialogue until either an apology or forgiveness results. Continue the dialogue until the karma runs over the dogma. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission assisted with this process to speed reconciliation after the horrors of apartheid. 
Another helpful approach is to seek “constructive revenge.” Here you take action to better yourself and clearly demonstrate that your stature exceeds that of your adversary. Your pride increases because of an authentic increase in your stature and your adversary may feel shame by comparison. This is a direct and constructive approach to transforming shame into pride.
Work within the laws of your local, regional, national, and international government and the by-laws of your organization to address your grievances.
Myths and Misconceptions
Many cultures promote the idea of collective punishment as a form of revenge. The concept is that it is fair, and perhaps expected, that anyone associated with the aggressor should be punished for the original insult, injury, or loss. According to this principle it is OK to punish any man because one individual man raped one individual woman. This is clearly an over generalization based on a non-representative sample. It is an invalid excuse for violence against many innocent people. It is destructive and unjustifiable.
Many religions promote the idea of Divine Vengeance. The concept is that only a god or supreme being is competent to judge a person's behavior and deliver punishment to avenge their bad behavior. In the beliefs of the Christian traditions every person faces their “judgment day” upon their deaths and they either live in the paradise of heaven or suffer in the fires of hell for all of eternity. Unfortunately this does not seem to serve as an effective deterrent, and evidence for any of this is speculative at best.

The paradox of revenge has inspired many thoughtful quotations. Here are some favorites:

“Resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.” ~ St. Augustine
“There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.” ~ Josh Billings (1818 - 1885)
“In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior.” ~ Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)
“Live well. It is the greatest revenge.” ~ The Talmud
“You cannot change the facts of the past but you can change the meaning of the past.” 
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968)
“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” ~ A.J. Muste
“Remorse cannot be coerced, it has to be discovered” ~ Leland R. Beaumont
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and the whole world would soon be blind and toothless.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
“Think through the consequences of your actions for the next seven generations.” ~ Native American wisdom

Revenge is a dish best served cold...

A relief of the Code of Hammurabi.
The concept of revenge is as old as history. Almost since the dawn of the written word, humans have had the desire to exact vengeance on others who have wronged us. 
For example, The Code of Hammurabi, the code of law from the sixth king of Babylon, was implemented about 1760 B.C., making it the oldest recorded set of laws in human history. The code is rooted firmly in the belief in an eye for an eye; in fact, that's almost exactly how the concept was phrased.
The Code of Hammurabi marked the official beginning of standardized revenge. It informs our way of thinking today. Indeed, our modern legal system is based on society's ability to carry out revenge against those who break its laws.
Yet our thirst for vengeance goes far beyond the social contract. The desire to see harm befall those who wrong us begins on a very personal level, within the brain of the victim. Neuroscientists have found the dorsal striatum, a part of the brain responsible for reward, also governs revenge.
What follows, in no particular order, are 10 examples of people where someone's dorsal striata kicked into overdrive, leading to some of the biggest cases of revenge in human history.

Ralsky's spam operation netted him hundreds of pounds of real junk mail a day.
10: Alan Ralsky
In 2003, enough people had access to the Internet that spame-mail had become a problem worthy of national attention. At the heart of the controversy was a Michigan entrepreneur named Alan Ralsky, who became known as the "spam king," for sending millions of bulk e-mail come-ons for a variety of businesses. As a result, some critics of his business model called Ralsky "vermin" and "scum" [source: Kurth].
When an article in a local paper spotlighted Ralsky's lavish lifestyle, including his 8,000-square-foot (743-square-meter) home, some of those critics managed to find the spam king's physical address. In a bid for revenge for all of the spam e-mail they'd received through his business, the naysayers signed Ralsky's address up for junk mail on a number of sites around the Internet. Eventually, thousands of Internet trolls propagated the address across the Web. At the peak of the revenge scheme, Ralsky's home received hundreds of pounds of junk mail each day [source: Leyden].
In 2009, Ralsky pleaded guilty in federal court to fraud for a penny stock manipulation scheme. He received a 51-month prison sentence [source: Jennings].

One of these guys is dangerous enough; when 47 are bent on revenge, your chances of survival are nil.
9: The 47 Ronin
What has become a lasting legend of Japanese loyalty and revenge -- and the basis for a number of films and books -- is rooted in historic fact.
In the Edo period of Japan, samurai served largely as military advisors, landowners and bodyguards for wealthy noblemen. The samurai's oath of loyalty included an agreement between a samurai and his daimyo (nobleman) to avenge his master's death. The 47 samurai sworn to protect their master, Asano Naganori, took this oath seriously.
During a 1701 visit to the seat of power, Kyoto, Naganori slashed at another nobleman, Kira Yoshinaka, the result of an unknown dispute between the two. For his transgression, the ruling group decided that Naganori should commit seppuku, or ritual suicide, which he did later that day.
Naganori's men lay in wait and planned. Two years later, the 47 ronin (the term for a samurai who lacks a master) crept into the Yoshinaka's home and confronted him, telling him why they had come and offering him the chance to commit seppuku himself. When he didn't, the ronin removed his head, carried it to the castle where their master was buried and placed it in front of his tomb. They surrendered to authorities, who ordered the ronin to commit suicide. Forty-six of the 47 ronin committed seppuku. There are conflicting stories of the fate of the 47th ronin; he either died or was pardoned.

August 1572 was a bad month for Protestants in France.
Getty Images/
8: St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre
When the Protestant Reformation created an entirely new branch of Christianity in the mid-16th century, the Catholic Church smarted from the break for some time. In addition to losing millennia-old face, the church risked losing land, power and funding, as formerly all-Catholic areas began to turn towards Protestantism.
This was the atmosphere under which Paris found itself in August 1572, when the city was filled with both Catholics and visiting Huguenots, or French Protestants. These two warring groups were in town for the marriage of a Catholic noblewoman to a Huguenot aristocrat. Almost as soon as the wedding ended, the Catholic French king, Charles IX, decided that the Huguenot military leader may as well be captured and killed for his trespasses against the church. To ensure that he needn't hear any complaints from the visiting Huguenots, he ordered all of the ones found in Paris killed as well. Over the course of just a few days, in what came to be called the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, between 1,000 and 4,000 French Protestants were murdered in Paris.
For good measure, King Charles carried the massacre into the countryside, ordering the revenge killings against all Huguenots found in France, leading to the murders of between 30,000 and 100,000 of them following the initial massacre [source: Oberhofer].This is how the Huguenots came to live in England.

Revenge, served right in the kisser.
Kean Collection/Getty Images
7: Aaron Burr
There are few stories of political rivalry in American history as legendary as that between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. And there are few cases of revenge as straightforward as their duel.
Burr and Hamilton both served in the revolutionary army under Washington. Both had political careers and aspirations for high office, which both achieved. And neither was above underhanded dealings to rise to power.
Hamilton is best known as the author of most of the Federalist Papers and as the first Treasury Secretary of the U.S., but he was also adept at influencing the political outcome of elections and nominations. In his 47 years, he managed to run afoul of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, mainly due to his backroom deals with underlings who could undermine their power.
But it was Burr whose line Hamilton would ultimately cross. After he lost the presidency to Thomas Jefferson by a decision Hamilton helped engineer in the House of Representatives, Burr accepted his fate and served as Vice President. He went onto run for governor of New York, only to find Hamilton working against him there as well. Burr had had enough; he challenged Hamilton to a duel and mortally wounded him on July 11, 1804 [source:].

United Airlines baggage handlers getting to work at Denver International.
David Zalubowski/AP Images
6: Dave Carroll
When the Canadian folk-pop group Sons of Maxwell began their tour of Nebraska in 2008, they were disheartened to find from their seats in the rear of the United Airlines flight that baggage handlers were heavily tossing their guitars onto the plane. Upon landing and traveling to a hotel in Omaha, the band found that while the bass was intact, a $3,500 Taylor guitar had been broken.
The guitar's owner, guitarist Dave Carroll, began what would be a long plight toward reimbursement for his instrument. After nine months of calling customer service and following their suggestions in filing a claim, as well as spending $1,200 to repair the guitar, Carroll's claim was finally denied by United, based on several points, including that he hadn't shown the guitar to officials in Omaha [source: Carroll].
So Carroll decided that he would exact revenge by recording a series of songs, which came to be called the "United Breaks Guitars" trilogy. He uploaded them onto YouTube, where they went viral and racked up more than 4 million views in less than a month. Carroll's revenge on United may have had an impact on the company's bottom line: Within four days of the first video's launch, United's stock dropped in value by $180 million, or 10 percent of its market cap [source: Ayres]. Now, THAT's revenge!

Dr. Hawley Crippen, mild-mannered adulterer or cold-blooded murderer?
Edward Gooch/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
5: Dr. Hawley Crippen
Revenge is sometimes best served confusingly and possibly from beyond the grave - and perhaps by someone else entirely, or possibly unfairly.
Such is the case with Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, a homeopathic doctor living in London with his concert singer wife, Cora. Mrs. Crippen discovered her husband was having an affair and announced she was ready to move on with the couple's money, which was mostly hers. Shortly after, she went missing and was never seen again.
Dr. Crippen told friends that she'd fallen ill and died during a series of performances in Los Angeles. In short order, Dr. Crippen sold his wife's jewelry, gave his landlord three month's notice and set sail with his mistress for a new life in the U.S. Soon, however, Mrs. Crippen's friends alerted Scotland Yard they suspected foul play and Dr. Crippen's home was investigated. A body turned up in the cellar; Dr. Crippen was arrested and convicted of his wife's murder and hanged in 1910.
In 2007, forensic evidence proved the remains hadn't been Mrs. Crippen's. In fact, they belonged to a man [source: MSU].Some aficionados of the case suspect that Dr. Crippen successfully disposed of his wife's remains, but was hanged for her murder based on the remains of someone else. It's possible those remains belonged to another person Dr. Crippen had murdered. It's also possible that he was wrongly executed.

Lorena Bobbitt arriving at court for the malicious wounding case against her in 1994.
Steve Helber/AP Images
4: Lorena Bobbitt
Lorena Bobbitt understandably served as the punchline to late night monologues for some time after she cut off her husband's penis. Yet her story is much sadder - and hopeful - than it appears at first blush.
The former Mrs. Bobbitt alleges that her ex-husband victimized her, using physical violence and even marital rape as a means of maintaining control over her. In 1993, on the night she got her revenge, she says John Wayne Bobbitt came home intoxicated, then assaulted and raped her. 

After he fell asleep, she retrieved a carving knife from their kitchen and used it to remove his penis. She left the house with it, driving some distance at around 3 a.m., before she rolled down her car window and tossed the dismembered organ out of the car.
She maintains she doesn't remember cutting off the penis, and her ex-husband was acquitted of domestic abuse charges. His penis was surgically reattached. They divorced in 1995.
As a result of her first marriage, Lorena became an advocate for victims of domestic abuse. She's founded Lorena's Red Wagon, an aid organization for women who've been abused. In 2003, John Wayne Bobbitt was convicted on domestic abuse charges unrelated to his first wife, Lorena.

Prison isn't a safe place for a child murderer, especially if it's the same one the victim's cousin is housed.
John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock
3: Anthony Stockelman
In 2006, Indiana man Anthony Stockelman was charged with molesting and murdering 10-year-old Katie Collman. It was a fairly airtight case for prosecutors: Red carpet fibers that matched those found in Stockelman's mother's house were found on the scene, his DNA was found on the body and on a cigarette butt nearby. 
If that wasn't enough, an eyewitness saw Collman riding in Stockelman's pickup truck. He pled guilty to avoid the death penalty. The court accepted and sentenced the man to life in prison.
Locals watching the case found Stockelman too at ease in prison for their comfort in early interviews. This would soon change: He'd been transferred to Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, where prison officials hadn't realized Katie Collman's cousin was also serving time [source: Zambroski]. 

Several months after his intake, Stockelman turned up in the prison with a fresh, amateur tattoo applied to his forehead. It read, "Katie's Revenge." Officials looked into the incident, believing that fellow inmates had forcibly applied the permanent tattoo to Stockelman's forehead.
A watchtower at Dachau concentration camp in Bavaria.
2: Dachau Massacre
In late April 1945, in the waning days of World War II, members of the 45th Thunderbird Army Infantry Division were ordered to take the Bavarian concentration camp at Dachau.
The members of the division soon discovered what came to be called the "death train" - 39 rail cars filled with the corpses of 2,310 camp inmates lying stationary on the tracks just within the camp's fenced walls.
Some members of the division said this sight drove them to commit one of the worst atrocities committed by American infantry troops in World War II. In an act of revenge for their crimes against the civilians found dead and dying in the camps, the American liberators of Dachau executed a number of unarmed SS officers who had come to the camp to surrender. The Americans lined up 75 German soldiers against a wall inside the camp and mowed them down by machine gun. In total, 17 were executed at the wall and another 11 were killed elsewhere in the camp the day it was captured.
Army officials covered up the war crime; it was only revealed in 2001 after World War II records were declassified.

One good way to inherit family wealth was to send the rightful owner to colonial America for a dozen years of indentured servitude.
©Getty Images/
1: James Annesley
One can only wish that James Annesley's story ends much more happily, but, alas, it concludes instead with his early death.
James Annesley was born to a wealthy family in Ireland in the early 18th century, to a vast amount of wealth and a noble title. His uncle Richard was determined to inherit James' wealth, and methodically dispensed of everything that stood between him and the family fortune, starting first with James' father - Richard's own brother. Historians suspect that Richard poisoned his brother Arthur.
With Arthur Annesley out of the way, only James stood between Richard and the family entitlement. At the age of 12, James was kidnapped by men hired by his uncle and smuggled aboard a ship to America, where he was held as an indentured servant in Delaware for 12 years. At 25, he worked off his servitude, took a ship to Jamaica and eventually London, and set about restoring his identity and reclaiming his fortune from his uncle in the courts.
He died before he could, with his uncle still in control of the family wealth. Annesley had the last laugh, however. The decades of court cases dragged his uncle's reputation into the public sphere, where he was decried as a schemer, bigamist and scoundrel.

Text and images via How Stuff Works

What lies beneath...

Revenge is Sweet (31 pics)
Image via Acid Cow 

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