Why Do Crime Victims Seek Revenge?
Crime victims often seek revenge for a variety of reasons
Some of the most common reasons include a desire for justice, a sense of powerlessness or vulnerability, and feelings of anger or frustration.
The primary reason that crime victims seek revenge is a desire for justice
When someone has been wronged or harmed, they can feel that seeking revenge is the only way to right the wrong and restore balance to the situation.
This can be especially true in cases where the justice system has failed or seems to be failing to provide adequate recourse or punishment for the crime. Scam victims often feel that seeking revenge is the only way to hold their abuser accountable for their actions if the legal system has failed to do so.
Other victims often spread the false message that no one ever does anything. And the police will frequently tell victims that there is nothing they can do. So naturally, this builds frustration and a design to take the matter into their own hands. But this almost never results in an arrest, and only deepens the victims trauma.
Another reason that scam victims seek revenge is a sense of powerlessness or continuing vulnerability
When someone has been victimized, they feel that they have no control over the situation and are at the mercy of their abuser, their criminal.
Seeking revenge can give them a sense of agency and power, allowing them to take control of the situation and feel like they are no longer helpless. This can be especially true for victims of online financial fraud because these crimes involve a significant power imbalance as a result of manipulation and control.
Feelings of anger and frustration can also drive crime victims to seek revenge
When someone has been wronged, it is natural to feel angry and upset about what has happened. This not only happens while processing grief but is seen in the very early stages for some victims – arising from fear!
Seeking revenge can be a way for victims to express and channel these emotions, allowing them to feel like they are taking some sort of action or standing up for themselves.
It is important to note that seeking revenge is never the best course of action for crime victims
While it may provide some temporary relief or a sense of satisfaction, it also leads to further conflict and harm – increasing the victim’s trauma or prolonging the processing of grief. In some cases, seeking revenge can even escalate the situation and result in more harm through violating the law and turning a victim into a criminal, ethically, if not legally.
Instead of seeking revenge, it can be helpful for crime victims to focus on healing and finding healthy ways to cope with their emotions
This will involve seeking support from friends, family, a SCARS Support Group, and a therapist or counselor, or finding ways to take care of themselves and rebuild their sense of safety and security.
Ultimately, seeking revenge can be a natural response to being victimized, but it is important for crime victims to find healthy and constructive ways to cope with their emotions and move forward in a positive way.
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Don’t Confuse Revenge With Justice: Five Key Differences
By Leon F Seltzer PhD
Reprinted in the public interest, courtesy of PsychologyToday
Revenge can masquerade as justice, but it frequently ends up perverting it.
The terms revenge and justice often get muddled. And that’s hardly surprising. In the course of history, the two have been frequently used interchangeably. You may even be familiar with the phrase “just revenge.” Still, as meanings alter and evolve over time, the connotations of these two words have increasingly diverged. It’s now uncommon to see them used synonymously. And doubtless, revenge has borne the brunt of the various semantic changes that have transpired.
Yet certain overlaps between—and ambiguities within—the two terms do exist. Before delineating the chief distinctions that can usefully be made to separate them, let me at least hint at what some of these inconsistencies might be.
It would be convenient to advance the claim that justice is fair and revenge is not. But as the words “just revenge” suggest, revenge—depending on its underlying conditions, motivations, and execution—might be either just or unjust, fair or (frankly) outrageously out of proportion to the wrong originally done. There seems to be equivocality tightly woven into the term that’s less perceptible in the related concept of justice. All the same, the well-known phrase “miscarriage of justice” warns us to be careful about distinguishing between concepts that, finally, must be understood as both relative and subjective.
Although I believe that the differences between revenge and justice enumerated below generally hold true, I’d emphasize that they are generalizations, so you’ll probably be able to think of some exceptions. There are instances when revenge can legitimately be understood as a type of justice, and justice a kind of revenge. Moreover, as discrete as I’ve tried to make each of the five categories below, a certain amount of resemblance and repetition has been unavoidable. That is, my “dividing lines” may at times seem a bit arbitrary.
1. Revenge is predominantly emotional; justice primarily rational. Revenge is mostly about “acting out” (typically through violence) markedly negative emotions. At its worst, it expresses a hot, overwhelming desire for bloodshed. As perverse as it may seem, there’s actual pleasure experienced in causing others to suffer for the hurt they’ve caused the avenger, or self-perceived victim (cf. the less personal Schadenfreude).
Justice—as logically, legally, and ethically defined—isn’t really about “getting even” or experiencing a spiteful joy in retaliation. Instead, it’s about righting a wrong that most members of society (as opposed to simply the alleged victim) would agree is morally culpable. And the presumably unbiased (i.e., unemotional) moral rightness of such justice is based on cultural or community standards of fairness and equity. Whereas revenge has a certain selfish quality to it, “cool” justice is selfless in that it relies on non-self-interested, established law.
Why is revenge predominantly emotional?
Revenge is predominantly emotional because it is driven by strong negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and a desire for justice. When someone has been wronged or harmed, they may feel overwhelmed by these emotions and seek revenge as a way to cope with and express them. These emotions can be powerful and may overshadow rational thought or consideration of the potential consequences of seeking revenge. Trauma can play a large role in this through the fight response.
Overall, revenge is predominantly emotional because it is often motivated by strong feelings of anger, frustration, and a desire for justice or power. These emotions can be powerful and may override rational thought or consideration of the potential consequences of seeking revenge.
2. Revenge is, by nature, personal; justice is impersonal, impartial, and both a social and legal phenomenon. The driving impetus behind revenge is to get even, to carry out a private vendetta, or to achieve what, subjectively, might be described as personal justice. If successful, the party perceiving itself as gravely injured experiences considerable gratification: their retaliatory goal has been achieved—the other side vanquished, or brought to its knees. Just or not, the avenger feels justified. Their quest for revenge has “re-empowered” them and, from their biased viewpoint, it’s something they’re fully entitled to.
On the other hand, social justice is impersonal. It revolves around moral correction in situations where certain ethical and culturally vital principles have been violated. When justice is successfully meted out, the particular retribution benefits or protects both the individual and society—which can operate effectively only when certain acceptable behavioral guidelines are followed.
Why is revenge, by its very nature, personal?
Revenge is personal because it is typically motivated by a desire to right a wrong or address a personal injury or injustice. When a victim or some they know has been wronged or harmed, they may feel that seeking revenge is the only way to address the harm and restore balance to the situation. This temptation or impulse can feel overwhelming. This can be especially true in cases where the justice system has failed to provide adequate recourse or punishment for the crime.
Additionally, revenge is often personal because it is typically directed at the person or group who has caused the harm. This can be driven by a desire for justice or a sense of anger and frustration towards the perpetrator. In some cases, revenge may be motivated by a desire to make the perpetrator feel the same pain or suffering that the victim has experienced.
Overall, revenge is often personal because it is motivated by a desire to address a personal injury or injustice and is typically directed at the person or group who has caused the harm. This can be driven by a range of emotions, including anger, frustration, and a desire for justice.
3. Revenge is an act of vindictiveness; justice, of vindication. The intense effort to avenge oneself or others can easily become corrupting, morally reducing the avenger’s status to that of the perpetrator. Two wrongs do not make a right and (ethically speaking) never can. Degrading another only ends up further degrading oneself. Even if a kind of justice might be served through an act of revenge, it could still be argued that there’s nothing particularly admirable or evolved in retaliating against a wrong by committing a “like” wrong. Or to behave vengefully is, at best, to take the low road to justice.
In opposition, justice is grounded in assumptions, conventions, and doctrines having to do with honor, fairness, and virtue. Its purpose really isn’t vindictive. That is, bloodthirstiness has no part—or should have no part—in precepts of justice, at least not in the way the term is presently employed. It’s based on established law, and its proceedings are designed to dispense to individuals precisely what is deserved: nothing more, and nothing less.
Why is revenge an act of vindictiveness?
Revenge is often considered an act of vindictiveness because it is typically motivated by a desire to inflict harm or suffering on someone who has wronged or harmed the person seeking revenge. This desire for retribution or punishment can be driven by a range of negative emotions, such as anger, frustration, and a desire for justice.
In some cases, revenge may be motivated by a desire to make the perpetrator feel the same pain or suffering that the victim has experienced. This can be a way for the victim to assert their power and take control of the situation, as they may feel that they have been wronged and are seeking to right the wrong.
However, revenge can also be driven by negative emotions such as hatred or a desire for revenge for its own sake, rather than as a means of achieving justice. In these cases, revenge may be motivated by a desire to inflict harm or suffering simply for the sake of causing harm, rather than for any larger purpose or goal.
We see this in the obsessive desire of scam victims to “expose” scammers, somehow believing this is doing them harm. Or in the process called “Scam Baiting” where people (usually victims) engage in deceptive, sometimes criminal behavior to waste the scammers’ time – in other words, get even! Unfortunately, this results in the victims adopting ethics that tolerate any act as long as they get their revenge! This is not justice. It just turns a victim into a criminal themselves.
Overall, revenge is often considered an act of vindictiveness because it is motivated by a desire to inflict harm or suffering on someone who has wronged or harmed the person seeking revenge, and may be driven by negative emotions such as anger, frustration, or hatred.
4. Revenge is about cycles; justice is about closure. Revenge has a way of relentlessly repeating itself (as in interminable feuds, such as the Hatfields and McCoys)—and ever more maliciously. Revenge typically begets more revenge. Whether it’s an individual or an entire nation, it takes place within a closed system that seems able to feed on itself indefinitely. Unlike tic-tac-toe, tit for tat is a game without end. One side gets satisfaction, then the other is driven to get its satisfaction, and then, theoretically, ad infinitum. There can be no resolution, no compromise. Each faction (say, Israel and Palestine) has its own agenda, its own sense of right and wrong. And the righteous rigidity of each side usually demands that some trusted outsider intervene if matters are ever to be settled.
Justice, in contrast, is designed (by individuals or officials generally not linked to the two opposing camps) to offer a resolution far more likely to eventuate in closure—especially if, in fact, it is just (equitable). And when justice is done so is the conflict that led up to it. Beyond that, punishments for wrongdoing carry an agreed-upon authority lacking in personal vengeful acts, which are calculated solely to “get back” at the assumed perpetrator. Technically speaking, so-called “vigilante justice” isn’t really justice, or social justice, at all—though at times it may appear to be. Taking matters into one’s own hands may sometimes seem justified, but it hardly meets the more rigorous criteria for consensual, or community, justice.
Why is revenge about cycles?
Revenge is often considered to be about cycles because it can lead to a cycle of retaliation and counter-retaliation. When someone seeks revenge against someone who has wronged or harmed them, the person who was the target of the revenge may feel triggered to need to seek revenge in turn, leading to a cycle of retaliation. This cycle can continue indefinitely, with each side seeking revenge against the other in an effort to right the perceived wrong or injury.
This cycle of revenge can be fueled by a range of emotions, such as anger, frustration, and a desire for justice or power. As each side seeks revenge against the other, these emotions may become more entrenched and the cycle may become more difficult to break.
Additionally, revenge can become a cycle because it often involves a power imbalance, with one person seeking revenge against someone who has more power or influence. This can create a cycle of retribution, as the more powerful person may feel the need to exert their power in order to maintain their dominance or protect their own interests.
When a crime victim seeks revenge against a criminal or criminals, they are foolishly attacking people who regularly engage in violence or retaliation, and have the means to do it. Consider cybercriminals? They easily have the means to identify anyone coming after them and retaliate through cyber means, such as identity theft or more direct hacking. This can result in significantly greater harm for the victim, but also against their family and friends by painting a bullseye on their back!
5. Revenge is about retaliation; justice is about restoring balance. The motive of revenge has mostly to do with expressing rage, hatred, or spite. It’s a protest or payback, and its foremost intent is to harm. In and of itself, it’s not primarily about justice but about victims’ affirming their inborn (but non-legal) right to retaliate against some wrong done to them.
And because it’s so impassioned, it’s typically disproportionate to the original injury—meaning that it usually can’t be viewed as just. The punishment may fit the crime, but it’s often an exaggerated response to another’s perceived offense.
On the contrary, justice is concerned with dispassionately restoring balance by bringing about equality—or better, equity. It centers on proportion as it equates to fairness. Not driven by emotion, restorative justice—meted out by a court of law—seeks to be as objective and evenhanded as possible. It’s not, as is so much of revenge, about doing the other side “one better” but about equitably—or properly—punishing wrongdoing. In fact, the ancient “law of the ‘talion’” (an ethical standard originating in Babylonian law and present as well in the Bible and early Roman law) focuses on what is commonly known (but, hopefully, only metaphorically!) as the “eye for an eye” conception of justice. In brief, the kind or magnitude of justice meted out is contrived to “correspond” as exactly as possible to the gravity of the original injury.
Why is revenge about retaliation?
Revenge is (as we have already discussed in our SCARS Notes) often about retaliation because it is typically motivated by a desire to inflict harm or suffering on someone who has wronged or harmed the person seeking revenge. This desire for retribution or punishment can be driven by a range of negative emotions, such as anger, frustration, and a desire for justice. But retaliation is not Justice and it does not bring closure!
Revenge may be motivated by a desire to make the perpetrator feel the same pain or suffering that the victim has experienced. This can be a way for the victim to assert their power and take control of the situation, as they may feel that they have been wronged and are seeking to right the wrong. But when a victim does this, it does not reduce their pain or trauma, just the opposite – it can increase their fear for themselves and those they know.
Revenge is driven by negative emotions such as hatred or a desire for revenge for its own sake, rather than as a means of achieving justice. In these cases, revenge is motivated by a desire to inflict harm or suffering simply for the sake of causing harm, rather than for any larger purpose or goal. Once a victim starts down this path it almost becomes addictive and it is very hard for the victim to break their pattern of revenge.
Overall, revenge is often about retaliation because it is motivated by a desire to inflict harm or suffering on someone who has wronged or harmed the person seeking revenge, and may be driven by negative emotions such as anger, frustration, or hatred.
What is the best reason for never becoming involved in revenge?
There are several good reasons why it is generally best to avoid becoming involved in revenge. Some of the most compelling reasons include:
- Revenge can escalate the situation: Seeking revenge can often lead to a cycle of retaliation and counter-retaliation, with each side seeking revenge against the other. This cycle can escalate the situation and lead to further conflict and harm.
- Revenge can cause more harm than good: While seeking revenge may provide some temporary relief or a sense of satisfaction, it can also cause more harm in the long run. This can be especially true if the revenge involves violence or other harmful actions.
- Revenge does not address the underlying issues: Instead of addressing the root causes of the conflict or problem, revenge tends to focus on the symptoms. This means that even if revenge is successful in causing harm to the perpetrator, it does not address the underlying issues that led to the conflict in the first place.
- Revenge can lead to negative consequences: Seeking revenge can often lead to negative consequences for the person seeking revenge, such as legal problems, damage to relationships, and personal harm.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are more effective!
Instead of seeking revenge, it can be more effective to focus on forgiveness and reconciliation. This can help to heal relationships and address the underlying issues that led to the conflict.
The best reason for never becoming involved in revenge is that it can often lead to more harm than good and does not address the underlying issues that led to the conflict. Instead of seeking revenge, it can be more effective to focus on forgiveness and reconciliation.
As a victim of a crime, after reporting the crime to the police turn away from the crime and the criminals, and focus all of your energies on your own recovery from this experience!
SCARS is here to help you with this, through our education and our support. We strongly recommend joining one of our support groups (at support.AgainstScams.org) and seeking a local trauma counselor. SCARS STAR Membership even includes a counseling or therapy benefit – you can explore that at membership.AgainstScams.org
SCARS Policy is not to permit anyone engaged in revenge or related activities. We are sorry, but they must completely suspend such actions to qualify for SCARS services.