(Last Updated On: March 25, 2022)

Victim Expectations And Recovery Failure

How Victims Can Sabotage Their Recoveries With Unrealistic Expectations

A SCARS Scam Victim Recovery Insight

Setting Your Expectations To Fail? Many Victims Do Just That!

Expectations guide your progress in recovery from your scam, but having unrealistic expectations during the process sets you up for failure.

When you set expectations so high you couldn’t possibly attain them, or expect another fantasy, you add unneeded stress and decrease your chance of success.

Setting realistic expectations in your recovery helps you form a healthy framework to succeed.

What are common Expectation Failures – what are some of the expectations that set yourself up for failure:

  1. You will get your money back
  2. Someone will save you
  3. You will just get over this
  4. You don’t need to walk away from the scammer (looking at photos)
  5. You can go back to dating again because the scam is over
  6. The trauma of the scam will pass in days or weeks – you just need to get over it
  7. You constantly ask: Are We There Yet? When will the scam trauma be over?
  8. You know you will never be scammed again – You are an Instant Expert

Each of these creates their own expectations and set the victim that buys into them up for failure.

Why? Because they are all forms of denial!

1. You Will Get Your Money Back

We all know that the vast majority of victims will not get their money back. It just does not happen.

Unfortunately, everyone wants a fairy tale that includes getting your money back, and if you did then everything would be magically ok.

The problem is this is yet another fantasy. In effect, trading one fantasy for another. It is not realistic.

But the seductive part of this is that it is possible. Maybe only a 0.0001% chance, but that is something that can be clung to. It is possible. Except that holding onto that fantasy prevents any real recovery because no one moves past that hope.

2. Someone Will Save You

Yes, it would be amazing if someone had a magic formula or technique that will make it all better. But it does not exist.

Relationship scams create real and lasting traumatic effects. They result in behavioral and psychological changes that can be anything from depression, anxiety, to full PTSD. Additionally, they can create numerous other psychological disorders.

There is no one to save you. You have to do it yourself!

Only through a real recovery program that understands the trauma and other impacts of scams can each victim help themselves through their recovery from the scam.

It is frightening to face this on your own. However, instead of expecting there to be a savior, look for the support you need so you can save yourself.

This is why SCARS strongly recommends trauma counseling or therapy for every scam victim!

3. You Will Just Get Over This

Yes, this will not happen either.

In the period during the first few months after the scam was discovered and ended, many victims believe that they were not really impacted. As early as just a few weeks after the scam, many victims believe they are fine, that they are magically over it.

Unfortunately, this is another fantasy, a form of denial. Some victims reach the anger stage of grief earlier than others, and anger creates a different set of feelings. This can include a false sense of wellbeing that is not really there. It is obvious to an observer by the other aspects of their behavior during this period that they are not magically ok.

The reality is that no one who has developed a real relationship (real or false) simply gets over it instantly. It takes time for the mind and body to process the grief, overcome the chemical-hormonal addiction, and recover from the trauma.

Believing that they are fine completely derails their recovery and alienates them from the care providers that can help them because it also brings all of the other negative aspects of anger.

4. You Don’t Need To Walk Away From The Scammer

Many victims have difficulty turning away from the scammer. They continue to keep and look at the photos and relive all the fake tales the scammer told them. Some accept new emails or messages from their scammers.

This is profoundly unhealthy for a victim that wants to recover.

You are either committed to your recovery or you are not, and maintaining any connection is unhealthy.

Clinging to the face and the stories is also a form of denial. You know they are not real, yet you cling because they help keep the dream alive. This is just a new variation on the same fantasy.

Refusing to put the scam behind you keeps a victim trapped with one foot (or both feet) in the past. This stalls recovery and prevents any form of moving forward.

The only way to recover is to cut off all contact with the scammers and that includes the fake artifacts they created. You have to finally unload these lies from your head.

5. You Can Go Back To Dating Again Because The Scam Is Over

This is part of the fantastical belief that a victim is ok after the scam ended. That the scam is over and that somehow, going back into the dating pool will have different results this time.

Remember the saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result?

While you are not insane, the expectation that you can just rebound or jump back in is not really realistic.

The scam happened, in part because of a lack of knowledge, but also because of a lack of skills, and also because of high-risk behaviors.

It will take considerable time to learn what needs to be learned both for knowledge and for skills and to change the behaviors that brought you to this place to begin with. Believing differently is not realistic. This is unrealistic thinking sets any victim up to fail.

Please this is a big part of why so many victims are scammed over and over.

6. Expecting That The Trauma Of The Scam Will Pass In Days Or Weeks

Again, this typically relates to denial or the onset of anger, and the mistaken belief that you will get over this quickly. This is also partly a case of impatience and ignorance.

Everyone who is injured wants to return to their normal life immediately, but it is just not always possible or real. Recovery and recuperation take the time they take.

While each victim is different, almost no one really goes through this experience and just springs back to normal. And the failure to recognize this and get the help that is needed just prolongs and deepens the trauma.

The expectation that you were not traumatized is pure denial and can even increase the trauma and its effects, Every victim needs to accept that the recovery process is going to require the time that it takes and that typically this takes between one to two years.

7. You Constantly Ask: Are We There Yet? When Will The Scam Trauma Be Over?

This is another variation of the denial that you will get over it quickly, is the constant asking when it will be over.

This too is a form of denial, but by pushing it out to the universe you are divorcing yourself from all or at least part of your own responsibility for recovery. In effect, you are saying someone else controls your recovery and they just need to tell you what to do.

In some cases, this can be a fawn trauma reaction, but it is more similar to the passive-aggressive behavior that might have existed before the scam. Only a trauma counselor or therapist can properly diagnose this.

However, every victim should know that trauma follows no set timeline.

In our experience, we see a pattern of recovery for a typical scam victim who does all the right things. But victims in any form of denial throw off the model and delay their recovery.

Instead of asking “are we there yet” ask yourself “am I doing everything I need to do.” In the end, the answers are within you and based upon your resilience and willingness to do what is needed to recover.

8. You Know You Will Never Be Scammed Again – You Are An Instant Expert

As anger sets in there is a whole variety of distortional disorders that can also set in with a scam victim. One of them is the mistaken belief that they now know how to avoid scams in the future because they were a victim this time.

This falls into several different cognitive distortions or biases. One of them is Savior Syndrom, but it can also be considered an immunity bias where the victim believes that they are now immune from scams.

Being the victim of a crime does not mean you learned anything about scams, criminality, or avoidance techniques or strategies. Learning these things take considerable time and effort.

However, many victims fall victim to this fantastical belief and rush out – back into the world believing nothing is going to harm them, they learned their lesson.

In fact, this belief confirms that they have learned almost nothing yet. But the knowledge, skills, and behavior changes that are needed can be learned – in time, with effort.


So much of what causes victims to fail in their recovery is the result of further fantastical thinking and denial of the real need for recovery.

No one can force you to recover and neither can they give you all that you need to know in just a few days or even weeks. It just does not work that way.

Trauma just does not simply go away.

Fantastical thinking needs to be burned out and that too takes time.

The only way to recovery from a scam is to be firmly grounded in the hard truth of what happened and how hard it will be to recover from it. It requires a real commitment.

There are no shortcuts, there is just solid continuous work and learning – staying on the path without looking for shortcuts.

Leave the denial behind and stop expecting. Stop asking. Stop making excuses. Stop believing in fairy tales and happy endings.

Just do the work.

And you will get there!

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