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SCARS|RSN™ Psychology Of Scams: Hate As A Coping Mechanism
After A Romance Scam Comes Anger Against Scammers, But When It Turns To Hate A Victim May Turn Away From Normal Recovery
Self-Hate, And By Extension Hate For The Scammer And Others Is The Most Dangerous Coping Mechanism
Coping mechanisms are strategies and behaviors that are carried out to mitigate, manage or adapt to anything that causes distress.
AFTER A ROMANCE SCAM, THERE IS CERTAINLY DISTRESS
To cope with something traumatic like this, we have to find a way to cope because we feel we cannot change the thing itself (the “stressor” itself – the scam.)
We have to adapt to it so that the hurt we feel as a result of it is decreased or eliminated.
We would all hope for a world that did not have to be coped with. Sadly, that is not the world we currently live in and so we develop all manner of coping mechanisms to hold the pain or stress away.
Some coping mechanisms have the potential to be very limiting and damaging to a person themselves, in the long run, certain coping mechanisms can be more detrimental than others.
And the most dangerous coping mechanism is hate!
WHAT WE ARE REALLY TALKING ABOUT IS SELF-HATE
What Causes Self-Hate?
Self-hatred is something that develops over time and it’s typically triggered by more than one factor, including past trauma, perfectionism, false expectations, social comparisons, and several learned behaviors.
Self-Hate From Trauma
Many people with extreme self-hatred have been through traumatic and emotionally challenging experiences in their past – such as a Romance Scam.
Many victims blame themselves for “allowing” the scam to happen. They think they should have known, and many will reinforce this belief. Thus, especially with financial loses, scam victims begin to hate themselves.
Additionally, after a scam, many victims, in an effort to try and make sense of their world, may develop an internal narrative that makes them feel as if they were scammed because they are not worth loving and have no value. These hateful statements may have been said directly to them by their scammer at the end, or from a past relationship, or they simply think them, and they soon become an all too familiar part of their inner critic.
Self-Hate As A Coping Mechanism
At first glance, it may be hard to see how self-hate could possibly be a coping mechanism. After all, self-hate can’t possibly decrease a person’s distress, can it?
THE ANSWER IS: YES IT CAN!
To understand it we have to understand the genesis of this coping mechanism. When do people tend to develop it?
When we look at a dysfunctional life, what we find is that the root of each person’s self-concept in the family system is some form of shame.
This feeling of shame has been passed down from parent to child. It is the primary stressor in a person’s life.
This shame can be a concept of failure. A concept of betrayal. A concept of defeat. And the scam brings it out and focuses their attention on it.
Everyone has to find a way to cope with shame. The ways they cope with shame set up a dysfunctional life and determine what role it will play in it when triggered.
To understand how self-hate develops as a coping mechanism, we typically see its root is in one or more of the parents in dealing with their own concept of shame. A child always wants to belong, a child growing up being different to that parent can trigger that feeling of shame – of not belonging. It can challenge a person’s identity and trigger shame later on, which they already subconsciously think is bad. Then along comes a romance scam with its overwhelming sense of distress and shame is the natural trigger or result.
Throwing Their Identity Out The Window
The person that cannot adapt to the trauma ends up by throwing their identity out the window.
After a romance scam that is exactly what happens. One minute you have this extended loving relationship, and then instantly it is gone. Not like the end of a normal relationship or even the death of a loved one (though that is similar). The end of a romance scam is dramatic, instantaneous, and without mercy.
For a multitude of reasons, it will be devastating to the victim’s concept of self and self-esteem.
Their only way of avoiding the shame they feel and the shame this event triggers in them is to emotionally disown the event and deflect that shame back onto themselves.
The victim becomes their own scapegoat.
It is to say, “you’re bad and you are my problem and now I’m the victim to you, and so is everyone else in my life.”
Especially when reinforced by the family and friends of the victim. Even when reporting the crime to the police the victim is many times blamed.
This then is everyone else’s coping mechanism also, since rarely does society want to acknowledge their role in scams. It is easier to blame a victim than to acknowledge that something should have been done in advance.
The friends and family can then hide all of their dysfunction behind this “family problem” person and can see themselves as the good ones because all of their focus can be placed on trying to fix what is “wrong” with this victim. This just further reinforces the shame the victim feels.
Many times a victim feels that what is wrong with them is that everyone else has turned against them (in reality or just in the victim’s mind) for being a scam victim and for not being able to change that. But the other people in the victim’s life can’t see this. This person has become the identified victim in the family, community, and society – in the victim’s own mind if not in reality.
The experience of perceiving that the victim is being turned against by the very people who they need support from the very most is so painful it is beyond describing.
And it makes it so the victim has no way to feel safe.
They feel hate (dislike, misunderstood, ostracized) by their family and friends (real or just imagined). And the way a person copes with this may be useful in the short term but completely destructive in the long term.
A person put in this position pushes themselves away. Sometimes we call this denial, but it is many times something else.
Since they can’t physically do that (push themselves away), what happens is the pushing away of themselves, splits their consciousness in half in a manner of speaking – this concept, is sometimes called Fragmentation.
When they experience this trauma a victim can split their consciousness in half, one half contains the parts within them that they perceive that their friends, family, and “others” blame. The other half becomes a mirror image of that – an internal antagonist – their inner critic – their internal self-hater.
This internal self-hater takes over the job of blaming them for everyone else.
It becomes the one that is constantly shaming and criticizing the parts within this person that are seen as wrong and bad by others and now as a result, by the person themselves.
This makes the hurt not only controllable but predictable. The victim will now believe that by doing this, they might just be able to change the things that are so detestable about themselves.
The person has become their own abuser and hater so that the “other” is never given the occasion or opportunity to do it to them.
Imagine you were going to go up to someone to hit them and instead they just started hitting themselves? What would you do? Chances are, the desire to hurt them would go away. You would feel like either something is really wrong with them so they must need your help or that they agree that they deserve it to such a degree that they are going to do it themselves. This would make you feel validated. This is usually the point at which the other people get an extra boost of self-esteem through turning themselves into the “false healer” (another variation of Schadenfreude).
According to many, this self-hating aspect is actually trying to save their self-identity and rescue them from the wrath of the blame the victim perceives in others.
This part holds the truths of what matters most to them.
The self-hating part will constantly criticize and shame the victim. Because the thought is that with enough disapproval of the scam and their role into, the victim will either stop being that way (a victim) or be motivated to fix it (the scam). And this will get the victim the sense of belonging and safety that the victim wants.
Of course, this is profoundly flawed.
The truth behind this self-hating aspect is just how important belonging and safety are and how much the victim needs those things after a scam.
Ideally, to help a scam victim recover it is important to substitute the needed things that the self-hater is holding onto as truth and try to get those things replaced with real support and self-reinforcement from places that the victim can get them from – such as a community of victims or support groups.
Self-hate is a coping mechanism that is so dangerous because it is a coping mechanism that may create an illusion of temporary safety, but it leads to constant anxiety because they are living with a part that behaves like an enemy in their own skin.
It can lead to ever greater mental health issues.
It leads to additional dangerous behaviors in the long term as well.
Things like risk-taking, abusive relationships, self-destructive behaviors, self-injury, and even suicide.
The risk-taking aspect translates into even more risk of being scammed – it may account for why victims who just ended one traumatic scam, jump into another relationship with a stranger online.
Hate For Others
However, worse still it can translate into a greater sense that everyone else is against them, and this fans the flames of more generalized hate for others.
At its core is the blame they feel from others, but again as a coping mechanism, they then direct their self-hate outwards.
In effect, anyone that is even slightly critical then becomes the new enemy further helping to reinforce their own self-hate/self-identity.
We constantly see this in many victims that practice self-hate, who then use it like a machine gun against others – other victims, assistance providers, police and authorities, and even their families and friends.
When you find this within you, seek to understand the reasons for its existence. Maybe it was just that you were scammed and traumatized in the process, try not to be so hard on yourself.
Maybe there is something more deep-seated, in which case you may want to seek more direct support with counseling or therapy.
You can overcome self-hate and the other ways hate is harming you, but you have to make the decision to do it. There are several options available to help – but if you need help get it!
SCARS Own Support Groups Help Victims Online:
Community Knowledge & Educational Support for All: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SCARS.Avoidance.Information.Public.Group/
Scam Victims Support Groups For Women (we have several): https://www.facebook.com/groups/SCARS.RSN.Support.Group.33/
Support Group For Family or Friends Of Scam Victims In Total Denial (Men and Women): https://www.facebook.com/groups/SCARS.Avoidance.Information.Public.Group/
Local Mental Health Support:
You are not crazy if you need someone locally to talk to! If you are in need of local support, look for certified Trauma Counselors in your area.
FIND THEM HERE: https://www.nbcc.org/Search/CounselorFind
Living With Hate
Living in an abusive environment (even if it is in your head) is destroying your ability to live a life that is worth living.
Give yourself a break and find help and support to change it!
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
We wish you well, and remember we are here to help in any way we can!
Tim McGuinness, Ph.D.
Society fo Citizens Against Relationship Scams
WOULD YOU HELP US HELP SCAM VICTIMS?
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