After Scam Victims Have Experienced Trauma
It Is Important For Scam Victims To Limit Their Exposure To More Crime News & Criminal Photos For At Least The First 6 Months To A Year After Their Scam
This is a very serious recommendation for scam victims because scam victims can deepen their trauma by continued exposure to news and information about scammers – it can also manifest into hate!
This is especially true when scam victims are exposed to hate and aggression against scammers in the typical anti-scam hate groups, that do almost nothing but express their hatred by constantly exposing or shaming scammers on social media.
We are not talking about information that will help scam victims to better understand how these crimes work, or why they were targeted, such as the Psychology of Scams section here on this website. We are talking about news about scammers’ actions, arrests, etc. And most important limit their exposure to scammer photos.
Why This Matters For Scam Victims – And All Crime Victims!
Scam victims who have been traumatized by the crime they were a part of may experience a range of psychological and emotional symptoms, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and fear. Repeated exposure to crime information, such as news reports or social media posts about these crimes, can exacerbate these symptoms and make it more difficult for victims to recover.
SCARS has led the concern over scam victims being constantly exposed to scammer photos and hateful rhetoric in amateur anti-scam groups for a decade. SCARS understands the psychology of scam victims completely and has applied hard psychological science in the work we do.
In a major study published in 2020 called “Crime News Consumption and Fear of Violence: The Role of Traditional Media, Social Media, and Alternative Information Sources” by Matti Näsi, Maiju Tanskanen, Janne Kivivuori, Paula Haara, and Esa Reunanen – conducted through the Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 24 (Unioninkatu 40), FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland, found:
“When all our analyses are compared, it appears that fear of … violence is influenced by active consumption of all types of media. The more widespread the consumption of social media and alternative information sources was, the more likely respondents were to report fear of … violence. ”
“Furthermore, the use of alternative information sources on consumption on violent crime news seems to have a particularly strong association with fear of violence.”
“In terms of both fear of … violence and avoidance behavior, we also found that respondents with secondary or tertiary education were more likely to project fear of violence, and to avoid certain areas near their homes, than those with just primary education.”
“a possible explanation could be that people with higher levels of education are more sensitive to crime-related threats. Prior research suggests that those with higher levels of education deploy a wider concept of violence, and manifest above-average sensitivity to defining conflicts as violence (Kivivuori, 2014). “
What this study found was that the more crime victims are exposed to news about crime (scams) the more fearful they became. Fear is of course a trauma response. This translates into greater fear of being victimized again, but it can also, conversely translate into a greater bias into believing they are immune from being victimized again – both false assumptions based upon cognitive biases and coping mechanisms.
In another study by the United States Department of Justice: NVAA 2000, Chapter 18 The News Media’s Coverage of Crime and Victimization
“The constituency most affected by the news media’s coverage of violence and victimization is crime victims. While sensitive coverage of victim’s cases can be helpful and, in some cases, even healing, media coverage that is sometimes viewed as insensitive, voyeuristic, and uncaring can compound victims’ emotional and psychological suffering.”
There is little more uncaring or insensitive that an endless stream of scammer photos as paraded by most anti-scam hate groups. However, to be fair, SCARS also publishes scammer photos but in a way designed to limit emotional response, and for the purpose of helping victims to find their way to quality professional care that SCARS provides.
Reasons Why Scam Victims Should Abstain
There are a number of reasons why repeated exposure to crime information can be harmful to scam victims.
- First, it can trigger memories of the traumatic event, which can lead to flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of PTSD.
- Second, it can increase feelings of anxiety and fear, making it difficult for victims to feel safe and secure.
- Third, it can reinforce negative beliefs about themselves and the world, such as the belief that they are not safe or that the world is a dangerous place. It can also trigger ever greater frustration about law enforcement making it appear that no one is doing anything – a completely false assumption.
Harmful Effects On Scam Victims
The harmful effects of repeated exposure to scams/fraud/crime information are not limited to just the short-term effects. In the long term, it can lead to a number of psychological problems or disorders, including:
- Increased aggression and hostility (leading to hate)
- Inability to accept the real situation they are in, including the inability to recognize expert professional support as something they need
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating (increasing cognitive impairment)
- Avoidance of activities that remind them of the crime (coping and avoidance mechanisms)
- Social withdrawal
- Problems at work or school
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
These are typical of what scam victims who continue to engage in exposure can face, but trauma is complex and it can manifest in other ways too. This is why getting both professional competent support and seeing a trauma counselor are so important.
Our Guidance For Scam Victims
If you are a scam victim who has been traumatized by the crime, it is important to limit your exposure to scam/crime information.
This may mean avoiding news reports about crime, unfollowing people or pages on social media who post about scams, scammers, and related crimes, or changing the channel when crime shows come on TV. If you find that you are unable to limit your exposure to crime information on your own, you may want to seek professional help. A therapist can help you develop coping mechanisms for dealing with the stress of repeated exposure to crime information and can help you work through the trauma of the crime.
Here are some tips for coping with repeated exposure to crime information:
- Talk to someone you trust. Talking about your feelings can help you to process the trauma and reduce your stress levels.
- Join a professional scam victims’ support group – SCARS offers free confidential and private support groups for scam victims – click here to learn more
- Find healthy ways to cope with stress. Exercise, relaxation techniques, and spending time with loved ones can all help to reduce stress and improve your mood.
- Seek professional help if you need it. If you are struggling to cope with the trauma of the crime, a therapist can help you develop coping mechanisms and work through your feelings. To find trauma counseling or therapy click here.