Romance Scam As Internet Infidelity
One Of The More Devastating Aspects Of Romance Scams Is How Often They Destroy Marriages
One of the things we have observed over the 30 years of our experience, it how often we hear about romance scams where the primary victim is married.
In other words, a man or a woman begins an online relationship and it develops into a full-scam romance, then they discover it was a scam and a fraud. Yet, in the process have destroyed the bonds with their real spouse.
Sadly, there is no reset button that can be pushed to return everything to where it was before.
How Does This Happen?
We have all been there. Wandering around online and we connect with a new person that seems interesting.
In the early days of the Web, it was all about making friends and connecting with new people around the world. After all, that was the promise of Facebook to bring the world together!
Seemed like a great idea, except that the big tech companies led us all to the slaughter by completely abdicating their responsibilities to keep their environments safe.
So most of us that had been online grew accustomed to being open to new people. Even those that came in later still had their openness to strangers » that proved a fatal weakness.
The result is most often, that a person begins what they think is an innocent conversation with the possibility of becoming friends with someone in a far-off land, and then being trapped into a level of manipulation that they had no defenses against.
Going From Contact To Manipulated Victim
We have written about the process of victim grooming and capture extensively.
The initial capture process consists of primarily two parts:
- Stranger Trust gives the manipulative scammer access – click here »
- Then when the time is right, the scammer performs an Amygdala Hijack – click here »
The result is that now the victim is primed and ready for the longer-term manipulation that bonds the victim to the scammer, destroying the marriage or real relationship in the process.
Gaslighting » is one of the manipulative techniques that scammers use extensively and very effectively. This is the same kind of manipulative technique that was used during the cold war (Manchurian Candidate comes to mind) and also used by cults (Jim Jones) – learn more here »
The end result of this is that the married victim is now so thoroughly programmed that they have effectively destroyed their marriage. Not out of malice or intent, but by the fact that they let a stranger in the door and lost control from there.
The levels of manipulation can be significant and extreme, and can profoundly change the person being manipulated. These changes can be that the person not only stops loving the person they married but openly hates and distrusts them when there was no cause to do so, other than what their manipulator told them was true.
The impact is not just on the victim, but also on their spouse (and children) who has no idea what is really going on – to them, it may appear as a normal case of infidelity. In fact, real people can use gaslighting on people also. Married partners can be induced to cheat through manipulation and control without realizing it, though that is probably far less often than they may claim when caught. However, in this case, it is very real.
Ending The Scam
Ending the scam solves everything right?
No, it does not.
This is because the victim has been thoroughly programmed by the manipulation. In the case of a normal romance scam that targets a single person, they can de-program themselves over time and return to a reasonable state of wellbeing. But in the case of a married victim that is not the case because the manipulation was targeting their original relationship with the goal of destroying it and making the victim dependent on the scammer. This results in the destruction of the love or affection that existed before.
Can It Be Recovered?
That is the major question in these cases. There are all the issues of normal infidelity on each of the partners, but there is also the problem of deprogramming the victim.
In our experience, we have seen most of these situations end in divorce or separation – mentally/emotionally, if not physically. However, with a sincere recognition by both parties that this manipulation did occur and with proper mental health counseling we have seen a return to some normalcy.
We recommend counseling locally in all of these cases. However, it may not be a marriage counselor that you need. We suggest looking for a counselor or therapist that has “Deprogramming” experience since you will be removing the manipulation as much as helping to rediscover the reasons for the marriage in the first place.
Many things are going to be necessary for any successful outcome.
- Fully and properly ending the scam and manipulation – zero tolerance for future contact, and vastly reducing internet use
- Full acknowledgment that the scam occurred and that the person was manipulated – admitting the problem is the first step in correcting it
- Local therapy for both partners – separate and possibly together later – need to first discover what the damage is and if a fix is possible
- More importantly, the therapy can help each person discover if they want to fix it
- This was a crime and it is important to report it so that it can be put behind
- If the couple splits then the victim should become part of a support group for ongoing support if not going to therapy
- The spouse should also go through grief counseling because in many respects the end of the relationship is similar to a death
The process of recovery is not an overnight one. This is long for a normal victim, but to fully recover, deprogram, and explore the options in a marriage make it more difficult. In some cases, this can lead to suicide and even domestic violence, so it should never be taken for granted that things will just turn out alright.
Sadly, we had a woman last year in 2018 who was lured into an Internet Infidelity by a scammer. We provided support through our support groups but because she would not go to counseling and include her husband it spiraled out of control. He could not grasp what had and was happening – he only saw the betrayal which resulted in him killing her and a family member, then taking his own life.
We strongly recommend that local counseling and therapy be the major component of any post-scam recovery where the victim is married or in a permanent relationship.