Did You Develop Long-Term Fears After Your Scam?
Many Scam Victims Experience Ever-Present Fears And Phobias Following Their Scams!
These fears can include specific or generalized phobias, such as Agoraphobia or phobias about going online!
Trauma Affects Everyone Differently
Some individuals may clearly display criteria associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but many more individuals will exhibit resilient responses or brief subclinical symptoms or consequences that fall outside of diagnostic criteria.
The impact of trauma can be subtle, insidious, or outright destructive. How an event affects an individual depends on many factors, including characteristics of the individual, the type and characteristics of the event(s), developmental processes, the meaning of the trauma, and sociocultural factors.
Let’s with an overview of common responses, emphasizing that traumatic stress reactions are normal reactions to abnormal circumstances.
This highlights common short- and long-term responses to traumatic experiences for individuals who may seek mental healthcare services.
Responses associated with trauma often either fall below the threshold of mental disorders or reflect resilience.
Facing Your Fear
Scam victims can manifest a broad range of fears, anxieties, and even phobias. These can include:
- General anxiety – you know something is wrong but cannot identify anything specific
- A developing phobia against being online
- Fear of connecting with others
- Agoraphobia – the fear (you may call it procrastination) from leaving your home when you are there
- And many more
Some of the Common Phobias we have seen victims exhibit are:
- Agoraphobia – Fear of open spaces or crowds
- Androphobia – Fear of men
- Anthropophobia – Fear of people or society – including social media
- Atelophobia – Fear of imperfection
- Atychiphobia – Fear of failure
- Catagelophobia – Fear of being ridiculed
- Cyberphobia – Fear of computers
- Gynophobia – Fear of women
- Koinoniphobia – Fear of rooms full of people
- Leukophobia – Fear of the color white
- Melanophobia – Fear of the color black
- Philophobia – Fear of love
- Scoptophobia – Fear of being stared at (Zoom calls)
- Sociophobia – Fear of social evaluation/judgment
- Technophobia – Fear of technology
- Venustraphobia – Fear of beautiful women
- Xenophobia – Fear of strangers or foreigners
The only way to deal with fear is to face it. Avoiding our fears only prevents us from moving forward—it makes us anxious. But be gentle with yourself and do only what feels safe to you! If you find yourself getting more panicky, take a break and find something pleasant or comforting to notice or do. If it feels safe later, you can try to explore your fear again, taking breaks as needed. If you find it difficult to address chronic fears or anxiety on your own, note that therapists can be invaluable in helping work through avoiding strategies. If you have experienced trauma, it is especially important to work with a therapist to create a safe environment where you can face your fear and reconstruct your memories.
Try To Be Positive
Learn how to increase positive emotions. Fear causes us to notice and remember negative events, which reinforces our sense that the world is a scary place. We can work to change that by deliberately noticing what is positive—the joy we feel when we see someone we love, the pleasure of a sunny day, the beauty in nature, the fun of an outing, the humor in a situation.
Try To Find Meaning
Fear can shatter our sense of the world as we know it. Those who have experienced trauma may also have experienced real losses that further lead them to question the meaning of their lives. Trauma survivors also often feel guilty about what happened, feeling, illogically, that they could have somehow prevented it, and learn what purpose is and how to enhance it, this shame can also contribute to doubts about their meaning.
Learn more about social support. Fear can also cause us to feel disconnected from others. Studies found that one of the key predictors for the longevity of people who had encountered trauma in their lives was the strength of their social relationships. You can also join one of the SCARS scam victims’ support groups.
Strategies For Coping With Fear After A Traumatic Event
After experiencing a traumatic event (such as a romance scam,) many people experience a heightened sense of vulnerability or fear. In order to better manage this fear reaction, the following suggestions are offered:
- Validate the fear. Know that it is normal to feel fear and accept the range of emotions you are experiencing.
- Share the fear with others. Meeting with others who are willing/able to listen to your fear or to share their fear reactions with you can be helpful. Even if you do not feel like talking, being with others who are experiencing the same feelings and talking about them can be useful. Our SCARS Victims’ Support Groups provide a safe place to talk with others who are experiencing the same feeling – click here for our Facebook Support Group.
- Find ways not to be alone. Spend time with others in order to provide a safe, comforting environment for yourself. If fears are more intense at night, invite a friend to spend the night with you or go to their home or room.
- Share responsibilities for tasks that are difficult or frightening for you to do. Any activities associated with a traumatic event can be more difficult for a while. Find ways of sharing those tasks until they become less frightening.
- Strategize how to react in a crisis. Develop steps and organization that can be useful in responding to a crisis.
- Create a safe environment. Take time to critically evaluate the physical surroundings in which you live and work and find ways to increase your sense of safety.
- Get accurate information about the trauma. Get useful, accurate information in a crisis. Avoid people who exaggerate or catastrophize about events. With accurate information, you have more power with which to deal with the event or your reactions to it. You are already in the best place to find the information you need, but also discuss these issues with your trauma counselor or therapist.
- Recognize the normal reactions to fear. Get useful, accurate information about normal reactions to trauma. It is easier to deal with intense reactions when you can remember that such “abnormal” reactions are really normal reactions to an abnormal situation.
- Remember that you cannot control everything. No one is able to completely predict, prevent or control the actions of others or all situations that might arise. Integrating this fact into your view of your life is psychologically healthy and can help you better assess what those things are that you can have some control over.
- Realize that the passage of time will decrease your fear response. The passage of time is aided by taking steps such as those listed above. If over time your fear reactions to a traumatic life event continue to significantly affect your daily functioning, professional assistance may be of benefit.
Emotional and Psychological Trauma
When bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. But with these self-help strategies and support, you can speed up your recovery.
What Is Emotional And Psychological Trauma?
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events (such as romance scams) 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 fearful, paralyzed, and unable to trust other people.
Traumatic experiences often involve a threat, 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 experience that determines whether an event is traumatic, but your emotional response of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.
Healing From Trauma
Trauma symptoms typically last from a few days to a few months, gradually fading as you process the unsettling event (the scam.) But even when you’re feeling better, you may be troubled from time to time by painful memories or emotions—especially in response to triggers such as an anniversary of the event or something that reminds you of the trauma.
If your psychological trauma symptoms don’t ease up—or if they become even worse—and you find that you’re unable to move on from the event for a prolonged period of time, you may be experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While emotional trauma is a normal response to a romance scam, it becomes PTSD when your nervous system gets “stuck” and you remain in psychological shock, unable to make sense of what happened or process your emotions.
Whether or not a traumatic event involves a significant loss, you as a survivor must cope with the loss, at least temporarily, of your sense of safety. The natural reaction to this loss is grief. Like people who have lost a loved one, you need to go through a grieving process.
When To Seek Professional Therapy For Trauma
Recovering from trauma takes time, and everyone heals at their own pace. But if months have passed and your symptoms aren’t letting up, you may need professional help from a trauma expert.
Seek Help For Trauma If You’re:
- Having trouble functioning at home or work
- Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression
- Unable to form close, satisfying relationships
- Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
- Avoiding more and more anything that reminds you of the trauma
- Emotionally numb and disconnected from others
- Using alcohol or drugs to feel better
- Working through trauma can be scary, painful, and potentially re-traumatizing, so this healing work is best undertaken with the help of an experienced trauma specialist. Finding the right therapist may take some time. It’s very important that the therapist you choose has experience treating trauma. But the quality of the relationship with your therapist is equally important. Choose a trauma specialist you feel comfortable with. If you don’t feel safe, respected, or understood, find another therapist.
- Did you feel comfortable discussing your problems with the therapist?
- Did you feel like the therapist understood what you were talking about?
- Were your concerns taken seriously or were they minimized or dismissed?
- Were you treated with compassion and respect?
- Do you believe that you could grow to trust the therapist?
If you feel you need professional help get it! Don’t procrastinate! If you are looking for local trauma counselors please visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/trauma-and-ptsd
At The Very Least
Every victim that is experiencing emotional distress should join a competently managed victims’ support group – but avoid amateurs as they can actually increase the effects of your trauma. To join a SCARS scam victims’ support group on Facebook click here.
Obviously, this is not intended to diagnose your level of stress, anxiety, or PTSD. It is just intended to help you understand the issues and provides some tools that you can potentially use in your daily life. Few scam victims fully understand or accept the existence of their trauma. For this reason, we strongly recommend to all scam victims who have experienced emotional distress following the end of their scam to seek professional help from a trauma counselor or trauma therapist, and you join a competent crime victims’ assistance support group (such as a SCARS group) – avoid amateurs as they can increase your trauma and cause further harm.
If you are looking for local trauma counselors please visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/trauma-and-ptsd
If you want to join one fo the SCARS scam victims’ support groups click here!