All of us have a fight-or-flight response to intense situations. Some of us take action, while some of us do nothing and turn the other way. The people in the following stories took the former and will live with their decisions for the rest of the lives. Although they will never forget the time they seriously injured or even killed someone, they do not regret their actions during those fateful moments.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
"I spent a short time in foster care when I was a kid. The group home I was staying in was run by some older thugs that used the youngest and smallest of us as mules for transporting cash and illegal substances. I didn't always do what I was told, and was often punished for disobeying.
Several other young boys and I were often beaten very severely, and I once got put in the hospital for a concussion. When I went back to the shelter home, I discovered the older boy who had beaten me had also been violating a girl I knew in the adjacent dorm.
I lost it. I snuck a fork into the dorm after dinner, went into the guy's bedroom, and stabbed him seven times in the chest and face. His friends woke up and destroyed me, stabbed me with the fork, and put me back in the hospital. When the police showed up to talk to me, I told them everything and the older boy was arrested for dealing. As a bonus, it turns out I partially blinded him after piercing one of his eyes.
Despite getting the worst beatdown of my life, stabbing that lowlife is one of the best things I've ever done."
"I shot and killed two men one night.
It was about 3 a.m., but I was still up trying to get some work done for the next day. I heard the sound of broken glass hitting the wooden floor in my living room and immediately knew something was wrong. My girlfriend and my dog were both asleep in our bedroom, and my niece and nephew were sleeping in the room across the hall (I was watching them for the weekend). I woke my girlfriend quietly and told her to stay quiet and call 911. I then went to grab a weapon. I could hear the crunch of the broken glass under the feet of the guys downstairs. Had it just been my girlfriend and me in the house at the time, I would've stayed put in the bedroom, but with my niece and nephew across the hall, I didn't want anyone coming upstairs. I positioned myself at the top of the stairs and stayed quiet, hoping they'd take my TV and game consoles from the living room and leave. After about a minute or two, both of them moved into the downstairs hallway and started heading towards the stairs. I stood up so they could see me, pointed my weapon at them, and yelled at them to get out of my house.
Before I even finished telling them to get out, one of them raised his weapon and started shooting at me. I didn't see him draw, so he must've had it in his hand. I returned fire and hit both of them several times. Once both guys were down, I just kept my sight on them and didn't move.
The police arrived about 10 minutes later. When I saw the lights outside, I lowered my weapon, cleared it and leaned it against the wall.
While I don't regret what I did in the least, I do look back at it and think about how I made some stupid mistakes and about what could've happened to my girlfriend, niece and nephew if I'd been injured or killed. I should've noticed the guy was strapped, and I should've been quicker on the trigger. I've run thousands of different possibilities about things I could've done differently through my head."
"When I was around 16 or 17 years, I noticed that the neighborhood creep was lurking around my friend's house. Her parents were messed up and frequently left her and her 2-year-old sister alone for extended periods of time. My friend was about three years younger than me at the time, so I would go over and bring them dinner and help put the toddler to bed from time to time.
One day, my friend came running to my house to tell me her sister was missing. My friend's sister was playing in the backyard when my friend went inside the house for a moment. When she came back, her sister was gone. I grabbed my keys and we drove around the neighborhood looking for her. We ran into some boys my age a few blocks up and asked them if they saw a little girl, and they described the creepy man and said he was taking her in the direction of his house.
Our local police department was messed up. Lots of things went unnoticed or investigated by them. Girls had gone missing before, and they never cared. This time, we even had witnesses, but nothing was done.
I dropped my friend back at her place and got my dad's weapon just in case. I drove to the guy's place, and there was no truck in the driveway or sign he was home. I poked around and found a shed in his backyard, and it reeked to high heaven. I looked inside and saw skin hanging from butcher hooks and chopped meat on a table. I knew what it looked like to skin and butcher animals, but this wasn't any animal I had ever seen. It looked like pig skin at first, but it was too small, thin, and pale. I drove around the neighborhood looking for his truck and eventually found him on the main road heading out towards the outskirts of town. I turned around and followed him to a half-finished subdivision, and when I saw him drag her body out of his truck, I lost it. I shot him, grabbed my friend's sister, and went home. She was alive and thankfully had just fallen asleep on the ride.
I contacted a family friend who worked for the sheriff's office and he said the guy was an informant on a gang that he worked for as a hit man type person and also that he had no family. He said the case likely wouldn't be investigated further after what they found in his house, and it remains 'unsolved' today.
It's haunting to kill someone, no matter the circumstances. I wish there were a path that would get more justice for the other girls and closure for their families, but I just couldn't let him hurt that baby."
"I broke a guy's skull once.
It was 2:32am and I had just left my girlfriend's house. I'm no tough guy, like 5'10 and like 200lbs, and I definitely don't fight people. On the way home, I stopped at a gas station to pick up some ice cream.
While I was in the checkout line, the cashier and I looked out the window to see this guy slapping this short girl around in the parking lot. The slaps soon turned into closed-fist punches and elbows to her gut and face.
My instinct kicked in, and I dropped my ice cream and ran across the parking lot. The guy didn't hear me coming and was facing away from me when I caught up with him. He raised his fist to punch the girl again, and I grabbed him by the shoulder, spun him around, and punched him so hard I could feel his orbital give away on impact. He fell back and hit his head on the side of the gas bar which concussed him and cut him wide open.
Apparently, the guy was beating this random girl because he THOUGHT SHE LOOKED LIKE HIS MOM. The girl said she had been trying to get away from him for a few blocks, and when she started running to the gas station for help, he chased after her running and saying, 'What's the matter, Mom? You don't love me anymore? Where's Dad now! Who's going to protect you NOW?' Freaking addicts with mommy issues, I bet that guy speaks with a slur now."
"My wife and I were out with friends late one night and decided to get a hotel room because we weren't sure if we should have been driving. We were walking back to our car to retrieve my emergency debit card when we noticed that an odd looking guy was following us.
He managed to sneak up on us and kick my wife in the back. I then punched him harder than I've ever hit anyone. He fell to the ground and tried to wrestle me, and I skinned off the side of his face and forehead by using the concrete as a belt sander.
I got off him because I assumed he'd realize that I would kill him if he kept fighting. He tried to attack me again so we went back to the ground and I started beating his eye socket over and over until it was smashed with blood pouring out of his eye.
I got off him again, and he was still trying to attack us. I probably should have left at that point because we could have easily fled, but I was still in 'fight or flight mode,' and I don't have the flight mode for some reason. I choked him out.
I put him on his side, make sure he had a clear airway and blood wouldn't pour into his mouth and used his phone to call him an ambulance.
This happened at the entrance of a parking garage and was all in view of the security camera. I didn't feel like dealing with the police that night, so I went up to the camera and put my license in front of it for a few seconds because I assumed someone would review the footage and they could find me if they needed to talk. I never heard from the police, and this was at least 10 years ago."
"I was 14, made a dumb choice and ended up in a bad situation. A grown man started physically violating me, so I stabbed him in the throat. I called the sheriff and we both went to the hospital. I got tested and questioned, and the results came back that proved what he did to me. As for the guy, he didn't survive. I never heard anything else about it from the cops. I assumed that it fell under self-defense, and considering that I was only 14, had proof, told them that the whole experience was pretty brutal and premeditated (he fed me drinks first) and it being a tiny town where all of the sheriffs knew me, I think the DA just refused to press charges."
"My neighbor kept their dog on a 3ft leash, yes LEASH, tied to a chainlink fence with no food or water. You could see the poor things rib bones, hip bones, ears leaking fluid and it clearly had a type of mange.
I went and talked to the owner who informed me that the dog 'just won't eat what I give him so let the mutt starve.' I offered to take the dog off his hands and he laughed and told me his wife would kill him if he gave away his 'guard dog,' but he'd sell it to me for $500. I was livid.
I called animal control shortly after leaving and they visited the next day, giving him a warning stating that he needed to get the dog proper food, water, shelter and a vet visit. He gives the 'poor me, I just lost my job, I can't afford any of that,' which was a total lie as the guy worked for an IT company and made enough to buy a Bentley with obnoxious rims a week prior. Despite everyone knowing he was loaded, animal control said they'll be back to ensure he's compiled.
3 days pass and I've been going into his yard every night giving the dog (who at this point I named Funyun due to his odd smell) food and water, making sure he's not starving. He was the sweetest thing and absolutely loved every second of human contact he got.
Animal control still hadn't come back, so I called again and they informed me that they can't force the man to take care of the dog and so long as it's not dying/dead, they can't take it.
About a week after that and still no change, I go back to neglectful jerk's door and inform him he's giving me the dog or I'm taking it, his choice. He laughs and says if I come back again he'll beat me up. I was livid but knew I couldn't do anything. But as I turned around, he sucker punched me and I fell off his porch face first, leaving me with a bloody lip and a nice bruised ego. He still wanted to fight, so I picked up a rock from his yard and punched him with it. A neighbor came by and broke us up at this point. The jerk is spitting blood and has a few chipped teeth and quite a gash on his scalp. Luckily the neighbor said she saw everything and would call the cops if he didn't give us his dog. He instantly says to take the dog and to leave him the alone, he hates it anyway.
I left with a busted lip, black eye, two cuts on my head that needed 14 stitches total and a dog. After a visit to the vet, we found out he had dermatic mange, rocks in his stomach, infections in both ears and kennel cough. He had to have surgery for the rocks and is mostly deaf now, but his fur is gleaming and his attitude has never been anything less than amazing. His new owner is an absolute doll and spoils him like he deserves. His new best friend is a blue stuffed bear from Petsmart that he never chews, just carries it around."
Looking back, I see how I handled it poorly and could have well been arrested or worse, but... I couldn't stand to see that dog sit out in the rain another day."
"My buddies mom was killed by an impaired driver who had been drinking. The driver posted bail, skipped town and was never caught. I asked him once if he ever thought about trying to find the guy. He said he asked his dad the same thing and instead of answering that question, his dad just told him not to ever go looking for the guy because he is long gone and no one will ever find him. My buddy said the way his dad said it, he knew he meant the guy is dead now. He said the only thing he wonders is if the guy actually skipped town or was dead before that."
"I am a locomotive engineer, and I have come across numerous people walking on train tracks. People see trains as either a quick means of suicide or think we are moving slow enough that they can race us at the crossings and win. This is the former.
It was around 4 a.m., and I saw some movement in my headlights. We see and hit lots of deer, dogs, coyotes, other animals, so I wasn't too surprised to see something in the ditch along the track. But I knew something was about to go down when I saw the figure stand up on two legs. When the train was about 1,000 feet away, I saw a man walk out between the tracks and hold his arms like he wanted to hug the train. I was going about 50mph. I tried to stop, but at that speed, it takes quite a bit to stop a train. We hit him, and he flew off the track. We actually saw him fly.
After we finally came to a stop, my conductor went back to see what happened while I contacted the dispatcher and emergency response. My conductor found him. The man was still alive, but pink foam was coming out of his mouth and he was in horrible pain. This wasn't the quick death he hoped for. He held on as long as he could, begging my conductor to not let him die. He changed his mind, I guess, but he did die.
Our company gave my conductor and me the option of taking three days off to deal with the trauma, but neither of us took them up on it. We had the 'get back on the horse' philosophy. I had a few nightmares, and my conductor was messed up for a while, but we figured the man was an adult and made his choice."
"During my senior year of high school, a girl got her friends together when she dumped her football player boyfriend in the hallway. She was terrified of him and gathered her friends for courage, and likely did it publicly to avoid his temper. It didn't work.
This guy picked up his girlfriend by the throat and choke-slammed her into the floor. A lot of people gathered around and yelled at him, but no one jumped in to help her.
This monster was pummeling the girl, and something awoke in me. When he lifted his head to lean back for another haymaker on this girl's face, I kicked him as hard as I could square in the throat.
He fell back and made some horrible gurgling noises. I kicked him again square across the face and saw a tooth click across the floor.
By then, teachers and an off-duty police officer got there and initially thought I hurt them both. Luckily, students stuck up for me, which was amazing because I was as anti-social as it got.
His football coach demanded I be charged with a hate crime for roughing up one of his star athletes (the guy is black, and I'm white). Apparently, he had to have a breathing tube for a bit while his trachea healed, and I cost him his football scholarship. The girl made a full recovery, but she had to have extensive dental work, and there was some scarring on her face.
I don't regret it one bit. He'd have killed that girl if I hadn't stepped in."
"I used to have a babysitter who had horrible taste in men. One guy, in particular, was the worst. He was always cruel to my siblings and me when he was around, and very cruel to my babysitter.
He bought a pocket taser from a flea market and decided he wanted to use it to 'prank' us. His definition of a 'prank' was tasing a 10-year-old kid. He juiced me, and I bawled like crazy. I told him that I was going to tell my mother and she'd call the police, but he said he'd let me tase him if I promised to keep my mouth shut. Unbeknownst to either of us, he had a heart problem that wasn't being cured by his substance habit. Being the vengeful person I am, I not only zapped him, I held that button down. He started having a seizure, but I didn't know that he was having a seizure, so I kept on zapping until the batteries died. I was in tears of laughter. The only problem was that he was not moving. My babysitter freaked out, called my mom to come get us and then dialed 911. At the time, that was the end of the story. I told my mom, we got a different babysitter, and nobody ever spoke of her or her boyfriend again.
I found out a couple of years ago that I caused him to have a heart attack and he died before he got to the hospital. Would I do it again? Totally. That guy was an abusive, coked out prick that would have caused more harm in the future. Though if I'd have known at 10 that I shocked a man into a heart attack that killed him, I would have been destroyed as a person. I'm glad my mom waited 'till I was well into adulthood to tell me."
"I was in Iraq during the battle, and it was my first deployment as a Marine.
The first time I saw an enemy in a firefight was when two fighters ran from a courtyard we were attacking. I was about 100 yards behind our support when I saw the enemy running towards another building to escape, so I engaged and killed them both. That was the third firefight I had been in by then, and I had fired hundreds of rounds in those. We killed men in the previous firefights but had no idea who fired the killing rounds. We just shot them up, and when they stopped, we stopped.
Watching my weapon tear up those men when I pulled the trigger changed me. It's something I'll never forget. I think about it every single day of my life. After everything settled down, I started to assess the damage of the attack. I made sure to look at the results of my actions. One of my rounds had hit a guy right in the forehead at his hairline. He had this massive jagged hole that caved in his head like a flat football, an eyeball pushed out of the socket, and he had a grin on his face. By the time we bagged him up, he was so stiff that we had to jump on his arms to get them down.
I didn't really regret it at the time. Those guys were trying to hurt people I considered to be my brothers. I didn't hesitate for one second, and at the time I was extremely excited to have gotten a kill, and in this instance two kills. As the years have gone by, I still don't regret my actions, but it doesn't feel good. I often think about their families and if they had kids who no longer have fathers."
"My younger brother and I attended the same elementary school. Growing up, my little brother was scrawny and got made fun of a lot because of his glasses and temperament. We would always either ride our bikes or walk home from school together since we lived close enough.
One day, I was picking my brother up after my tennis class, and as I turned the corner to his classroom, I saw another boy push him down to the ground and step on his head. I lost my cool, ran up to the kid, and swung my tennis racket right against his open mouth, causing two of his front teeth to come out. There was blood everywhere. He screamed bloody murder, teachers ran out, snatched the tennis racket out of my hand, grabbed me by the arm, and took me to the principal's office.
The kid had to get stitches on his lower lip where one tooth ripped into the flesh. I got in so much trouble but it was worth it knowing my brother didn't get picked on as much after that happened. Everyone knew about his psycho sister."
"My grandad owned a small shop in rural Oklahoma in the 1940s. His clerk Daniel was a Native American as was not uncommon around those parts. One day, Daniel was walking to deposit the store's cash at the local bank when a drifter started accosting him and harassing him. Daniel told the drifter that he'd kill him if the man didn't stop. The drifter didn't stop, grabbing at Daniel and the bag of cash. Daniel pulled out a knife and stabbed the guy to death and left him dead in the street, went to the bank deposited the money, and called the local police.
The police came, saw the dead drifter, took Daniel's side of the story, realized no one knew the drifter, and decided it was more or less justified.
Daniel spent one night in jail while the cops sorted everything out, and then the day after the event, he was given the choice of burying the drifter or going before a magistrate and explaining everything. He opted to bury the body in a potter's field."