When A Victim Allows Themself To Become Scammed Again It Is Quite A Different Experience Than The First Time
Notice that we said “allows” themself to be scammed again because it is a decision the second or third time around. However, every victim can recover from this!
The first scam was not the victim’s fault. They were lured in, groomed, manipulated, and controlled. But after that, with the awareness of the existence of 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., a victim has to decide to enter into a new stranger relationship to be scammed again. In other words, it requires a conscious decision on the part of the victim.
This changes everything for the victim and how they view scams and themself.
Shame & Guilt
Shame and guilt are moral emotions that result from deviations from internalized standards. Both constructs differ with respect to their origins, to the emotions accompanying them, and to their behavioral consequences.
Shame is associated with a loss of self-respect, social withdrawal, 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., and aggression. Guilt, on the other hand, supports prosocial behaviorBehavior Behavior / Behavioral Actions Otherwise known as habits, behavior or behavioral actions are strategies to help prevent online exploitation that target behavior, such as social engineering of victims. Changing your behavior is the ONLY effective means to reduce or prevent scams. and motivates compensation for the inflicted loss.
Individuals struggling with 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? recovery experience intense feelings of guilt and shame. In recovery, these feelings are worked through in treatment, therapy, and support & recovery programs such as SCARS offers. But what happens when someone in recovery relapses, when they decide to re-enter a relationship with a stranger and it turns out to be another scam when the shame comes roaring back to the surface?
The danger in shame is that it keeps people struggling silently, and the only way to overcome shame is to talk about it. When relapse is coupled with feelings of shame, it can prevent those needing help from asking for it and continuing on their journey of recovery.
Causes of Relapse
It is important to understand common triggersTRIGGERS A trigger is a stimulus that sets off a memory of a trauma or a specific portion of a traumatic experience. that can cause relapse so that those in recovery can be aware and learn to cope in healthy ways.
But first, it is important to understand that the victim has to make a decision to relapse. Understanding and accepting this is the key to returning to recovery.
Most Common Triggers
These are the most common triggers that occur before a relapse:
Withdrawal– Many individuals relapse within the first three months after ending the first scam. Remember that 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 a physical addiction, and like any addiction there are withdrawal symptoms. Because scams are not an external drug, withdrawal is typically over in a few weeks to a couple of months. But it can cause a victim to desire the return of those “warm and fuzzy” romantic feelings – to crave them and to rush into trying again for a new relationship.
Mental HealthMental health Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". According to WHO, mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others". From the perspectives of positive psychology or of holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines "mental health".– Often with scam victimhood there are unaddressed or hidden mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression, other disorders, or past traumas. It is important to address these with professionals so that proper care can be taken.
People– Being around the same people who are engaging in or are in online or long-distance relationships while you are in recovery can triggerTRIGGERS A trigger is a stimulus that sets off a memory of a trauma or a specific portion of a traumatic experience. a relapse. One should not surround themselves intentionally with other people who are in developing relationships unless they have a stable foundation in their own recovery. This is because it can cause emotional decisions and comparisons that can result in a new fake relationship.
Places– Any place that you may have associated with your previous scam is a place you would ideally want to stay away from. This is also true of any reminders of the romantic feelings that you enjoyed during the first scam. The impacts of romance or relationship scam recovery on the human brain are so far-reaching that minuscule things may trigger an individual in recovery that may not even enter their conscious minds.
Things– Anything that you associate with the positive aspects of your first scam are things to be mindful of. We are surrounded by “things” every day, so staying vigilant in recovery is important if a craving sets in.
Poor Self-Care– Proper self-care will make you feel better about yourself, and will be sending a message to yourself that you care about your well-being. Conversely, poor self-care sends messages to yourself that you don’t care about your well-being. This tends to say to yourself that something is missing and this can lead to additional risk-taking when you should be playing it totally safe.
Relationships and Intimacy– If not in a relationship when entering recovery, it is encouraged that individuals abstain from these for their first year. This is because individuals who are newly recovering may try to fill their void with an intimate partner (local or online), and if the relationship goes south it brings up overwhelming emotions. For a very small few, meeting someone new (hopefully locally) can be a path to more rapid recovery, but this is extremely rare.
Overconfidence– No matter how confident you feel, it is encouraged to follow recovery recommendations and engage in recovery-related behaviors and activities, and stay away from people, places, and things that are not aligned with your recovery. You do not know better. In fact, your biases and mentality after a scam are so highly emotional and impulsive that almost all scam victims are impaired in their thinking and decision-making, yet many victims feel so empowered that they assume that they are now an expert and know better than real professionals. This always leads to disaster.
Boredom and Isolation– When one is bored or isolated they are left with their own thoughts and emotions, which often do not want to be heard or felt. During the romance scam, your time was filled with relationship interaction. Most victims spent dozens of hours a week interacting with their original scam(s) – the criminals used this as a way to dominate and control their victims. In recovery, it is important to develop healthy habits that get you out of your head and connected with others – such as our 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.. In recovery try to provide activities that substitute for the time spent with the scammerScammer 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.. Without replacement activities, it is easy to want to try it again out of boredom and inactivity.
Uncomfortable Emotions– When in recovery from a relationship or romance scam, individuals are going through several parallel processes, such as processing grief, dealing with 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. responses, 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. & shame. Many victims will try to mask emotions with substances so they do not have to feel them. Sobriety and recovery go hand in hand. Recovery is the journey of sitting with these emotions, knowing they will pass, and doing something positive with them day by day while the recovery process continues. This is one of the reasons that we recommend all victims see a local trauma counselor or therapist, and participate in a professionally managed support groupSupport Group 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..
Shame and Relapse
Shame destroys the very part of us that believes we are capable of change
Placing shame on top of relapse keeps people who are struggling quiet and in disconnects them from recovery.
Shame carries the inherent belief that there is something wrong with you.
Often in support group meetings context, this is referred to as “terminal uniqueness”, the belief that the individual is the only person to experience relapse. In order to move away from shame and take the stigma out of relapse, it needs to be talked about. But often a victim will feel such shame, that ever attempt to help them is viewed as judgment and blame.
This Terminal Uniqueness does not just affect relapsed victims, it profoundly affects first-time scam victims too. That is why support groups are so important so that victims can see and feel that they are not unique, they are not alone.
Self Blame And Even Hate
Relapsed victims can’t imagine having to admit to other people and feeling that they not only let themselves down but also other victims that helped to support them. They often hate themselves and believe others hate or are angry with them too. They blame themselves without really accepting their role, and feel very isolated from the recovery process.
This is a point where more victims are unable to return to the recovery process or communicate with their support circle.
Getting Over The Shame of Relapse
Regardless of the reasons for your relapse, for allowing yourself back into another scam, the most important thing is that you don’t let it consume and destroy you. And it will if you let it. You made a bad decision, but that too is understandable and forgivable.
A scam relapse (or being re-scammed) can be an extremely frustrating and humiliating experience.
Feeling guilty and shameful typically accompany relapse. Afterward, you may even feel like a failure, especially after all the hard work you’ve put into your recovery. These feelings are normal at this stage and shouldn’t be ignored. However, once you acknowledge these feelings, it’s important to remember not to live in them. If you allow guilt, shame, and failure to control your life, it’s next to impossible to continue to recover and the trauma only deepens.
How To Begin Recovery Again!
So how do you pick yourself back up after a relapse? Here are some practical suggestions for overcoming feelings of guilt and shame after a relapse.
1. Take responsibility for your actions
It’s very tempting after a relapse to point fingers and play the blame game. It’s this person’s fault. It’s that person’s fault. It’s ALL my fault. While this is true, extremes like this should be completely avoided. Even if there is a culprit, it won’t help you move past the relapse. Taking responsibility for your actions is important, but this doesn’t mean living in self-pity or beating yourself up. After a relapse, accept responsibility for what you’ve done and move on. Look for support from friends and family, your counselor, and your support group, and make the best of another difficult situation.
2. Allow yourself to move on (give yourself permission to move on)
Mistakes are a part of life. We all make them. It’s how we bounce back from these mistakes that define us, not the mistakes themselves. Remind yourself about all the hard work that you’ve put into your recovery up to this point. Encouragement from family members, friends, and other supporters, will help you get back on the right path. Writing yourself a letter that reminds you of all your successes up to this point, may also help in shaking the associated feelings of shame.
Especially, write yourself a letter that you forgiveForgiveness What Is Forgiveness? Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. yourself for this mistake!
3. Let it go – your screwed up and are smarter now
Relapse after a period of recovery can leave you with a lot to digest. There are typically intense feelings that arise, and letting go of them is easier said than done. Seeking additional help after a relapse is nothing to be ashamed of. A SCARS Support Group or your trauma counselor are the places to start. Remember, these can be a great way to resolve intense feelings in a safe environment. You will need help to process a relapse.
4. Stop the “Black and White” thinking
Scam victim recovery doesn’t follow any specific formula, in fact, everyone’s path is different. Relapse doesn’t require falling back into a full blown scam, it can be as simple as allowing yourself to read new emails from your previous scammer. A slip also doesn’t mean you have to “start over”. At worst it should be only a few steps backward in your quest for long-term recovery because you have not forgotten what you learned, you just ignored it impulsively. If you find yourself in this “all or nothing” type of thinking, be sure to remind yourself that this can be only a minor setback.
Getting over the shame of relapse is more than achievable, it’s necessary. With the right support and actions, relapse may even be the driving force that ultimately keeps you from ever being victimized again.
You can do this!
SCARS is here to provide the support and services needed to effectively face the original scam and any relapse. However, we are not a mental healthcare provider, so we also recommend that every victim should find a local trauma counselor or therapist.
Here are directories & resources to help you find a trauma professional:
To Learn More Also Look At Our Article Catalogs
Essential Tools For Every 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 From SCARS Publishing
Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 32 plus years of experience.
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SCARS GREEN BOOK
Self-Help Self-Paced Recovery Program Guide
LEARN HOW TO RECOVER ON YOUR OWN
This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as trauma 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, qualified support groups, or completely independent – on your own!
The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.
After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.
The SCARS GREEN BOOK will help you recover from your scam offline and it will always be there when you need it!
SCARS SLATE BOOK – Let Us Explain What Happened!
A Guide For Families & Friends Of Scam Victims
HOW TO HELP ROMANCE SCAM VICTIMS FOR FAMILIES & FRIENDS OF SCAM VICTIMS
This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.
The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.
Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scams work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.
SCARS RED BOOK
Your Personal Scam Evidence & Crime Record Organizer
ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION TO MAKE THE REPORTING PROCESS SIMPLE!
Helps you get and stay organized. This publication is to help Scam Victims organize their crime information. Complete this information before reporting to the police then bring this book with you
Before or after reporting to the police the RED BOOK gives you a dedicated tool to record all the essential facts of this crime. The Victim, the Scammers, the Money, and your Police interactions. Everything that really matters can be easily recorded for your immediate use and for the future!
As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.
The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.
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By the Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS 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. Inc.
A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance & Crime Prevention Nonprofit Organization Headquartered In Miami Florida USA & Monterrey NL Mexico, with Partners In More Than 60 Countries
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