(Last Updated On: March 24, 2022)

Living under Manipulation for Too Long Leaves Victims …

An Exploration of the Short-Term & Long-Term Effects of Long-Term Relationship ScamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam?

A SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Insight into the Psychology of ScamsPsychology Of Scams Psychology Of Scams is the study of the psychological or emotional effects of scams or financial fraud on victims of these crimes. It helps victims to better understand the impact of scams on them personally or on others. To find the SCARS articles on the Psychology of Scams, use the search option to enter the term and find them.

What Does Extending Exposure To Romance ScamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. Manipulation Do To Victims?

Long-Term Scams Can Have Very Lasting Effects

This article is intended for both scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. victims and can be shared with family and friends to help them better understand the scam experience.

If a romance scam lasts more than 6 months a victim must consider that it has left you more than traumatized. While there is not an exact number, more than 6 months has mentally changed victims for the worse. You will have lived so long in a fantasy, in a delusion, under manipulation and denialDenial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.. These leave their mark on your mental healthMental health Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". According to WHO, mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others". From the perspectives of positive psychology or of holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines "mental health"..

Effects Of Psychological And Emotional Manipulation

In the case that someone is physically or sexually abused, you will most likely be able to see its effects. When it comes to emotional and mental abuse, this isn’t true.

The scars are not bodily, but they can affect the abused and manipulated person for the rest of their life. This is especially true for those who do not seek help from a professional. Mental manipulation can lead to problems with intimacy, trust, respect, and security, just to name a few.

When scams last for long periods of time, the scammers mold a fantasy world for the victims using their full bag of manipulative tricks. These can leave victims in profoundly delusional states – not always, but that risk is high.

NOTE: SCARS recommends that all relationship scamRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? victims – whether they feel like they have been traumatized or not – should find a local traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. counselor or therapist to be evaluated. Trauma does not just go away. You can’t just “man-up” and move on. Trauma is also contagious, you can give it to your family members, especially your children. Please get help! To find a local trauma counselor visit this directory or contact your nearest hospital and ask for a mental health referral: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/trauma-and-ptsd

Potential Short-Term Effects Of Long-Term Scams

  • Surprise and confusion – feeling like whatever is happening can’t possibly be so, wondering why the person who has been a friend or loved one is now a complete stranger and has lied to you from the beginning.
  • Questioning yourself – you may find yourself wondering if you really remember things right or if something is wrong with you. This is a result of everything you do is questioned or being told that you remember things wrong and the manipulative party was right – this is the residual effects of gaslighting.
  • Anxiety and hypervigilanceHypervigilance Hypervigilance is when the nervous system is not correctly filtering sensory information and the individual is in an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity. This appears to be linked to a dysregulated nervous system which can often be caused by traumatic events or PTSD. Normally, the nervous system releases stress signals in certain situations as a defense mechanism to protect people from perceived dangers. In some cases, the nervous system becomes chronically dysregulated, causing a release of stress signals that are inappropriate to the situation and create inappropriate and exaggerated responses. Hypervigilance may bring about a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion. Other symptoms include: abnormally increased arousal, a high responsiveness to stimuli, and a constant scanning of the environment. – in order to avoid future manipulation during the scam and afterward, you may have become hypervigilant toward yourself and others. This is a means of avoiding behaviors that might rock the boat or looking for behaviorBehavior   Behavior / Behavioral Actions Otherwise known as habits, behavior or behavioral actions are strategies to help prevent online exploitation that target behavior, such as social engineering of victims. Changing your behavior is the ONLY effective means to reduce or prevent scams. in others that points toward judgment or blameBlame Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action..
  • Being passive – as taking action can lead to more pain in an emotionally abusive or manipulative relationship, being passive can become the default and if it lasts long this way, it can become a permanent part of your personality. It is something that can be hard not to do when you are in a stressful situation after the scam ends.
  • ShameShame Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self; withdrawal motivations; and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness., guilt, and self-blameSelf-Blame Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them. SCARS seeks to mitigate the prejudice against victims and the perception that victims are in any way responsible for the actions of offenders or scammers. There is historical and current prejudice against the victims of domestic violence and sex crimes, such as the greater tendency to blame victims of rape than victims of robbery. Scam victims are often blamed by family & friends for the crime. Scam victims also engage in self-blame even though they are not to blame. – you may find yourself feeling guilty or blamingBlaming Blame or Blaming is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong, their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. Blame imparts responsibility for an action or act, as in that they made a choice to perform that act or action. yourself for allowing the manipulative presence in your life. As others may blame you, it can become harder not to take that out on yourself, which leads to feeling even worse.
  • Avoiding eye contact – you may end up avoiding eye contact and becoming smaller inside of yourself in order to take up less space and feel less likely to be picked on by the manipulator while the scam was going on.
  • Walking on eggshells – not knowing what will cause a spike in behavior from the manipulator can lead to thinking excessively about every little thing you do in order to ensure you don’t upset or angerAnger Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, trigger, hurt or threat. About one-third of scam victims become trapped in anger for extended periods of time following a scam. A person experiencing anger will often experience physical effects, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion that triggers a part of the fight or flight response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically. Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them", psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability. the manipulator, and this can translate to others after the scam ends.

The Longer-Term Effects Of Long-Term Scams

  • Isolation and numbness – you become an observer rather than someone who acts. You may feel little to nothing at all, even in situations that should make you joyful. This can make you feel hopeless and damaged, unable to ever feel emotions again.
  • Requiring approval – this manifests in ways like excessive accomplishing, being nice to everyone, being a people pleaser, and being focused on appearance. After feeling like you were not enough for a long period of time, your instinct is to make yourself seem perfect so others will appreciate you.
  • Feeling resentful – this can show as frustration, impatience, irritability, anger, and blame. Resentment inevitably requires release, but this can be hard to seek and allow. After someone treats you badly, it can be hard to see anything but that bad behavior.
  • Excessive judging – you may find yourself watching for what others are doing and holding people, including yourself, to very high standards. This is a means of feeling in control after not being in control. This often requires time, support, counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling., and self-compassion to move past.
  • Depression and anxiety – following manipulation or other emotional abuse, there are so many lies that have been told that you can often believe them yourself. However, the good news is that it can be healed, over time and with help.
  • Lowered resilienceResilience Is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. Resilience exists when the person uses "mental processes and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors". In simpler terms, psychological resilience exists in people who develop psychological and behavioral capabilities that allow them to remain calm during crises/chaos and to move on from the incident without long-term negative consequences. In popular accounts, psychological resilience is sometimes likened to a "psychological immune system". to future trauma – trauma will have again and when it does a person’s resilience will determine how easily they spring back from it, but long-term scam victims experience much harder times recovering from each new experience.

In addition to these signs, Stockholm syndromeSyndrome It is a group of symptoms that can consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms. is also common in these types of situations. The person who is being abused by the abuser will become accustomed to the abuse, and will even defend their painful actions. This happens in scams where the victims – after the scam – cannot fully understand the depth of the lies and continues to have serious feelings for the fake person or the scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer..

What is Stockholm Syndrome and Who Does it Affect?

Stockholm syndrome is commonly linked to kidnappings and hostage situations, but it also applies to human trafficking, and (in our experience) to long-term relationship scams. Aside from famous crime cases, regular people may also develop this psychological condition in response to various types of trauma.

What is Stockholm Syndrome?

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. This psychological connection develops over the course of the days, weeks, months, or even years of captivity or abuse.

With this syndrome, hostages or abuse victims may come to sympathize with their captors or develop a deep connection to their abuser or manipulator. This is the opposite of the fear, terror, and disdain that might be expected from the victims in these situations.

Over the course of time, some victims do come to develop positive feelings toward their abusers – not only do they see them as human beings but can develop lasting feelings. They may even begin to feel as if they share common goals and causes. The victim may begin to develop negative feelings toward others outside of the situation, such as the police or authorities. They may resent anyone who may be trying to help them escape from the dangerous situation they’re in – such as family and friends in the case of relationship scams.

This paradox does not happen with every victim, and it’s unclear why it occurs when it does.

Many psychologists and medical professionals consider Stockholm syndrome a coping mechanism, or a way to help victims handle the trauma of a terrifying situation. Indeed, the history of the syndrome may help explain why that is. However, in the case of scams it is different, but it can produce the same outcome.

Psychologists and mental health experts assigned the term “Stockholm syndrome” in 1973 to the condition that occurs when hostages victims develop an emotional or psychological connection to the people who held them in captivity.

Despite being well known, however, Stockholm syndrome is not recognized by the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual is used by mental health experts and other specialists to diagnose mental health disordersMental Illness Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors.. However, regardless of this, it is recognized that bonds do form between victims and abusers and that these can be very hard to break. Victims often require trauma therapy to help them recover from this, along with long-term support.

But What is Manipulation?

Manipulation is the exercise of harmful influence over others.

People who manipulate others (such as scammers) attack their victim’s mental and emotional sides to get what they want. The person manipulating — called the manipulator — seeks to create an imbalance of power, and take advantage of a victim to get power, control, benefits, and/or privileges at the expense of the victim.

Manipulation can happen in close or casual relationships in the real world, but they are more common in closely formed relationships. They also regularly occur in scams or fake relationships – such as romance scams and others. In a way, everyone can manipulate others to get what they want. But manipulation is defined as any attempt to sway someone’s emotions to get them to act or feel a certain way.

Manipulators have common tricks they’ll use to make you feel irrational and more likely to give in to their requests. A few common examples include:

  • Guilt
  • Complaining
  • Comparing
  • Lying
  • Denying
  • Feigning ignorance or innocence
  • Blame
  • Mind games

Signs of Manipulation?

Manipulation can happen in many forms. In fact, sometimes kindness can be a form of manipulation depending on the intent. Then the question is raised, is any form of influence considered manipulation? In certain contexts, the answer can be yes, but not all manipulation is with evil intent:

  • Children manipulate their parents
  • Parents manipulate children
  • Spouses and partners manipulate each other
  • Cats & dogs manipulate their owners
  • Governments all manipulate
  • Companies manipulate their customers
  • The list is endless

Whether manipulation has good or bad intentions, it is still an attempt to undermine your rational thinking. One definition of mental health is the ability to be resistant to manipulation – recognized or not.

 People who manipulate others have common traits that you can look for. They include:

  • They know your weaknesses and how to exploit them
  • They use your insecurities and needs against you
  • They convince you to give up something important to you, to make you more dependent on them – such as your money, but always your time and feelings and trust
  • If they are successful in their manipulation, they will continue to do so until you are able to get out of the situation

Some Attributes of a Manipulator

  • A manipulator will actively lie to you, make excuses, blame you, or strategically share facts about them and withhold other truths. In doing this, they are gaining power over you and gaining intellectual superiority.
  • Manipulators are experts in exaggeration and generalization. They may say things like, “No one has ever loved me.” They use vague accusations to make it harder to see the holes in their arguments.
  • They are passive-aggressive for many reasons that aren’t always intended to manipulate. But manipulators will use this tactic to make you feel guilty and give backhanded compliments. They are doing this to show anger without directly being angry, making you feel confused.
  • They are openly judging, ridiculing, and dismissing you. They want to make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, and that no matter what you do you will be inadequate to them. They only focus on negative aspects and do not offer constructive solutions.

Getting Help

Whether or not a victim suffers from the long-term effects of manipulation or even Stockholm Syndrome it is important to get professional help to recover.

Trauma, in whatever form, will not just go away. It requires help, but a part of the lasting effects of manipulation is to make victims doubt that they are traumatized – they are just being historical, exaggerating, feeling sorry for themselves. To their family and friends, this can seem like the case too.

It is very hard for even professionals to help some victims because of the complexity of the outward symptoms and the victim’s own denial and self-abuse following a long-term scam. A “pity party” can be just drama, but very often it is the real effects of trauma. It is best to accept that professional help will be needed for a proper evaluation.

Where to Find Help:

  • Visit this directory: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/trauma-and-ptsd or visit your state or regional mental health licensing body to see the list of local practitioners – remember you are looking for trauma professionals.
  • Contact a local victims’ assistance provider or join a SCARS scam victims’ support group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SCARS.Avoidance.Information.Public.Group
  • SCARS offers free resources to help scam victims and their friends and families understand what has happened to the victim here on this website or in Spanish on www.ContraEstafas.org
  • SCARS also offers several useful books for scam victims at a small cost on shop.AgainstScams.org

SCARS Printed Books For Every Scam SurvivorSurvivor A Scam Survivor is a victim who has been able to fully accept the reality of their situation. That they were the victim of a crime and are not to blame. They are working on their emotional recovery and reduction of any trauma either on their own, through a qualified support organization, or through counseling or therapy. And has done their duty and reported the crime to their local police, national police, and on Anyscam.com From SCARS Publishing

Visit shop.AgainstScams.org

Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 32 plus years of experience.

SCARS Website Visitors get an Extra 10% Discount
Use Discount Code “romanacescamsnow” at Checkout

SCARS GREN BOOK - The SCARS STEPS Guide to Scam Victim Recovery

Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide


This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as trauma counseling or therapy, qualified support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers., or completely independent – on your own!

The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.

After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.

The SCARS GREEN BOOK will help you recover from your scam offline and it will always be there when you need it!

Get it here

SCARS SLATE BOOK - A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims

SCARS SLATE BOOK – Let Us Explain What Happened!

A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims


This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.

The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.

Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scams work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.

Get it here

SCARS RED BOOK - Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer

Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer


Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you

Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!

As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.

The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.

Get it here

SCARS BLUE BOOK - Survivor's Recovery Journal
SCARS LIME BOOK - Wisdom & Motivation for Scam Victims
SCARS CHERRY BOOK - A Guide To Understanding Your Fear
SCARS WORKBOOK - 8 Steps To Improvement
SCARS WORKBOOK - Understanding Self-Blame, Guilt, and Shame
100% of all profit goes to support FREE Scam Victims' Services

See all our books and motivational gifts for scam victims at Shop.AgainstScams.org

100% of all profit goes to help SCARS help more scam victims worldwide.

Your generous purchase allows us to maintain our scam avoidance, support, and recovery services. Please help SCARS and stand proud.

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com