On September 4, after two months on the lam, 41-year-old Brazilian Claudia Campos Veiga was arrested for the murder of her 65-year-old father, Omar. According to various news sources, she invited her father on a hike on July 9, during which she tied him to a tree, doused him with gasoline, and set him on fire. She burned him alive.
Ms. Veiga reportedly told police that her motive was to pay him back for sexually abusing her for years. Veiga’s ex-boyfriend backs this up and told local law enforcement that she had been wanting revenge for “over a 30-year period.” This latter claim seems unlikely, given that she would have been 11 years old back in 1991 and the alleged sexual abuse began in her teens. But what does seem true is that Ms. Veiga fantasized about killing her father for months — maybe even years — before she did it. This was no crime of passion.
The Complicated Relationship Between Trauma and Revenge
It is unclear at this point just how much premeditation was involved. Ms. Veiga says she called and talked to her brother about her plan a few days beforehand. Some news reports suggest that the only reason she began visiting her father, who had lived for the past five years in a rehabilitation center for the homeless, was to gain his trust before sending him to his grave. Staff at the rehab center said she had visited him a total of three times and had acted like a loving daughter, even asking him to come live with her during their second visit.
Let’s assume that Ms. Veiga’s allegations are true; given how rare false accusations of incest are, it’s a pretty safe bet. Revenge fantasies after an interpersonal trauma are common; after being victimized and deeply hurt, who wouldn’t daydream about turning the tables? This is especially true when the perpetrator was someone in a position of trust. I think there are few greater betrayals than a parent who forces his child to be their sex partner.
And it’s not just the acts themselves that are devastating. What happens after the abuse can either mitigate the damage or aggravate it. Abuse victims who are believed and supported by other members of their families, who get professional help, and who see their abuser face consequences for their actions often see their revenge fantasies fade…