Scam Survivor’s Guilt : A SCARS Insight

Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

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’s Guilt : 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

Crime victims are especially prone to expressing guilt, even if there are no other victims of their crime.

In the case of online 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, the 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’s guilt can overwhelm them but be compounded by the realization that they are just one of the millions affected by these crimes.

What Is Survivor’s Guilt?

Survivor guilt (or survivor’s guilt; also called survivor syndromeSyndrome It is a group of symptoms that can consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms. or survivor’s syndrome and survivor disorder or survivor’s disorder) is a mental condition that occurs when a person believes they have done something wrong by surviving a traumatic or tragic event when others did not, often feeling self-guilt. It also applies when the victim feels guilt that a crime happened to them – that they were responsible for allowing it.

The experience and manifestation of survivor’s guilt will depend on an individual’s psychology. It is defined as a significant symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may be found among survivorsSurvivor 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 of combat, epidemics, murder, natural disasters, rape, terrorism, confidence 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. or fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim., among the friends and family of those who have died by suicide, and in non-mortal situations.

Survivor Syndrome

Survivor syndrome, also known as concentration camp syndrome (or KZ syndrome on account of the German term Konzentrationslager), are terms that have been used to describe the reactions and behaviors of people who have survived massive and adverse events.

In 1949, Eddy de Wind, a Dutch psychiatrist, and survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp introduced the term “concentration camp syndrome” regarding the psychological consequences of persecution, describing the “pathological after-effects” unique to former prisoners of Nazi concentration and extermination camps. The subsequently well-documented syndrome among Holocaust survivors includes anxiety and depression, intellectual impairment, social withdrawal, sleep disturbance and nightmares, physical complaints, and mood swings with loss of drive. Several studies have examined the “chronic and progressive” nature of the condition, with symptoms increasing in intensity as survivors age.

Commonly such survivors feel guilty that they have survived the 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. and others – such as their family, friends, and colleagues – did not.

Both conditions, along with other descriptive syndromesSyndrome It is a group of symptoms that can consistently occur together or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms. covering a range of traumatic events are now subsumed under post-traumatic stress disorder.

Typical Guilt Reaction After A Crime

Although every victim is different, there are some typical responses:

Shock Or Numbness

Victims may feel “frozen” and cut off from their own emotions. Some victims say they feel as if they are “watching a movie” rather than having their own experiences. Victims may not be able to make decisions or conduct their lives as they did before the crime.

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., Disbelief, and 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.

Victims may experience “denial,” an unconscious defense against painful or unbearable memories and feelings about the crime. Or, they may experience disbelief, telling themselves, “This could not be happening.” They may feel intense anger and a desire to get even with the person who committed the crime.

Confusion

Quite often, victims struggle with confusion about what has happened, and what is going on around them. They may repeat themselves several times, unaware of who they have previously said things to.

Guilt

Feelings of guilt are very common. Victims frequently think that they should have been able to do something to prevent the crime. They often think “If only I had . . . this wouldn’t have happened.”

A Need to “Do” Something

It is very typical for some victims or family members to feel as though they need to “get busy” right away and make sure things are handled. This could be a way of coping for some.

Other Typical Responses:

  • Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping
  • Continual sadness with frequent crying
  • FlashbacksFLASHBACKS A flashback is reexperiencing a previous traumatic experience as if it were actually happening in that moment. It includes reactions that often resemble the client’s reactions during the trauma. Flashback experiences are very brief and typically last only a few seconds, but the emotional aftereffects linger for hours or longer. Flashbacks are commonly initiated by a trigger, but not necessarily.
  • Extreme tension or anxiety
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Other symptoms of distress for days or weeks following a trauma

Secondary injuries: When victims do not receive the support and help they need after the crime, they may suffer “secondary” injuries. They may be hurt by a lack of understanding from friends, family, and the professionals they come in contact with – particularly if others seem to 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. the victim for the crime (suggesting they should have been able to prevent or avoid it).

Online 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? Cause Trauma And Trauma Causes Guilt In Many

PTSD is a common outcome for romance & 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.

People who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also commonly experience guilt. In particular, individuals who have endured traumatic events may also begin to feel what’s known as trauma-related guilt. But what does the term mean exactly?

How Guilt Develops After Trauma

Trauma-related guilt refers to the feelings of regret stemming from the belief that you could or should have done something different at the time a traumatic event occurred. For example, a military veteran may regret not going back into a combat zone to save a fallen soldier. A rape survivor may feel guilty about not fighting back at the time of the assault. A relationship scam victim should have known better than to fall for it or should have stopped it earlier.

Trauma survivors may also experience a particular type of trauma-related guilt, called survivor guilt. Survivor guilt is often experienced when a person has made it through the traumatic event. A person may question why they survived. They may even blame themselves for surviving a traumatic event as if they did something wrong.

The experience of trauma-related guilt does not seem to depend on the type of traumatic event experienced. Combat exposure, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological manipulation, and the loss of a loved one have all been found to be associated with the experience of trauma-related guilt.

In the case of scam victims, it is a combination of several of these:

  • The victim’s own manipulation
  • The loss of the relationship as though a loved one died
  • The impact on the victim’s financial future
  • The impact on their family who do not know about the scam
  • The impact of maintaining the secret

Consequences Of Trauma Guilt

Feeling guilt after the experience of a traumatic event is serious, as it has been linked to a number of negative consequences.

For example, trauma-related guilt has been found to be associated with:

  • depression
  • 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.
  • social anxiety
  • low self-esteem
  • and thoughts of suicide

In addition, feeling a lot of trauma-related guilt has been connected to the development of PTSD.

Given the potential negative consequences of trauma-related guilt, it is important that any such guilt is recognized and addressed.

Treatment For Trauma & Survivor’s Guilt

SCARS provides “Peer to Peer’ 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. for scam victims, however, this may not always be enough for all victims of online crime.

We recommend to all crime victims that you seek local 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. or therapy from professionals experienced and certified in trauma. Links are provided below to help you find such licensed professionals in your community. In many countries, such counseling is provided free to scam victims.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Trauma-related guilt can be treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Trauma-related guilt may originate in how you think or interpret a situation.

For instance, a rape survivor may feel like they should have seen their attack coming, even though it was impossible to predict that the assault would occur. Likewise, a combat veteran may think to themselves that they should have done something different to prevent the death of a fellow soldier, even though the event may have been completely out of their control. The same is true of scam victims; that they should have known better than to believe a fraudsterFraudster 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. and should have recognized the signs.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for trauma-related guilt would focus on helping people become more aware of the thoughts or beliefs that underlie feelings of guilt, such as through self-monitoring (journaling is important in this.) The therapist would then help the person come up with more realistic interpretations of the situation. For example, lessen your guilt by realizing that the traumatic event was completely out of your control, and you acted in the best way you could given the situation. By reducing guilt, cognitive behavioral therapy may also help increase self-compassion and acceptance.

In addition to cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic/psychoanalytic approaches can also be helpful in addressing this form of guilt. Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic approaches would aid the person in exploring their early life experiences (for example, relationships with significant others, early childhood traumas or fears) in order to identify experiences and factors that may make someone more likely to feel trauma-related guilt and shame.

Importance of Treatment For Scam Victims

Sadly, many scam victims do not believe they need help and instead turn to amateurs, fakes, and pretenders to express their feelings. These include unprofessional anti-scam groups and other nonprofessionals.

It’s important to state again that trauma-related guilt is something that desperately needs to be addressed.

You may think of trauma-related guilt as a nuisance—something which diminishes your quality of life alone. In contrast, trauma-related guilt is much more serious, and, at least in crime victims, is closely linked with suicidal thoughts.

SCARS encourages anyone coping with this guilt to talk openly with their doctors. Help is available, and studies suggest this help can make a significant difference for those who have experienced the trauma from online scams.

Finding A Counselor or Therapist

If you are looking for local trauma counselors please visit www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/trauma-and-ptsd

Suicidal Thoughts

Many scam victims experience trauma and develop suicidal thoughts.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 now for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

The hotline may not be expert in the nuances of online crime, but they can listen to your pain and help you find solutions. If you need to talk to someone, 24/7 call 1-800-273-8255

Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

For more crisis hotlines around the world visit: International Suicide & Emergency Hotlines (opencounseling.com)

SCARS Support For Scam Victims

The Society provides Support Groups and Forums available to all scam victims free of any costs*

Remember

While SCARS Provides support groups for scam victims it may not be all you need. Our recovery program also recognizes that local trauma counseling and therapy play an important role for many scam victims. Do not dismiss this out of a mistaken belief that you are fine or already recovered – it may be far from reality. After all, this is your future we are talking about!

 

TAGS: SCARS, 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., Trauma, Survivor’s Guilt, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Romance Scams, Scam Victims,

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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?

It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
  2. U.S. State Police (if you live in the U.S.) – they will take the matter more seriously and provide you with more help than local police
  3. Your National Police or FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. « www.IC3.gov »
  4. The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network on « www.Anyscam.com »

This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.


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