What Do We Mean By Saying That Every Victim Made A Mistake?
You have all heard us say that the victim is not to blame, right?
Yet we also say the victim made a mistake?
This seems impossible to reconcile!
For example: this is equivalent to someone that drives during winter but did not check for road conditions, and then has an accident when they hit ice on the road. Is the driver to blame for the accident when the car lost traction? No, but they made a mistake in not being aware of the conditions.
It is easy to blame the driver. You could say they were negligent. But the fact is that they were doing what they thought was safe. Even though in hindsight it was not. Clearly, this was a mistake, even though they were not to blame. The ice was to blame!
The same is true for scam victims.
It is impossible to deny that the victim was scammed. The victim did open the door for the scammer and began talking with a stranger online – these are facts.
But the victim did not know about the level of sophistication of the manipulation that would follow.
Is this negligence or simple ignorance?
You can’t be negligent if you did not know that it could be possible – that you would be scammed by talking with a stranger.
This means that the victim is NOT to blame and they should feel no shame for what happened. They were ignorant, nothing more.
Many do not understand this distinction. How someone could make a mistake and not be to blame.
Notice that we did not say they were not responsible.
All scam victims are responsible and have to face the very difficult consequences that come from the scam. But responsibility and blame (or shame) are two different things. This is a very important distinction, not just semantics.
Being responsible means you have to accept and face the reality, then do the hard work required to restore or repair the damage done as much as is possible.
We think this is a very important distinction.
Being to blame for something means you had a real choice in the matter – that you made a decision to ignore the risks and did it anyway.
Yes, the scam victim could have said no from the beginning before the manipulation started, but they were ignorant of the potential.
As the saying goes: “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!”
However, once warned and aware, things change.
Every victim becomes aware of this after they are scammed. Even if they are in denial, the facts are undeniable.
This is one of the great challenges with repeat victims – they did know better the second time, however, psychology plays a big role in still preventing acceptance.
Regardless, every victim is responsible for their actions intentional or not – not for the purposes of blame, but for the purposes of recovery and learning so that they can prevent it from ever happening again.
Responsibility is the greatest challenge for many victims because to fully accept responsibility means you also have to accept the mistake that was made. This acceptance is the critical component in being able to move forward and leave the scam behind.
As long as there is self-blame and guilt, there is no acceptance and responsibility – they are polar opposites.
If you still feel guilt or shame then you have not truly accepted your responsibility, nor are you fully engaged in your recovery.
This is one of the most important points in all of the SCARS recovery process!
For most victims, it will come in time. It is a concept that you will eventually arrive at. But until you do you cannot really be at peace with yourself.
In all forms of recovery, this question of responsibility is the foundation for progress and personal growth. Our SCARS process is no different in that regard.
Remember that this is not optional, it is central. Victims either accept it or they don’t. You can’t be a little bit pregnant. You can’t be a little responsible – you either are or are not.
But don’t pressure yourself to get there, it will happen in time. Just understand that it is one of the most significant milestones in your journey.
Understand that when we talk about your mistake, it is not blaming. Just recognition of the fact that it happened. You were not to blame, but now you know better.
However, knowing this does not mean you will be able to avoid scams completely, or recover and make things as they were before. These are the consequences of what happened. Each victim has to face their own hard choices.
It also requires more knowledge and experience than many have. But if you accept your responsibility then learning will be part of your focus because you owe it to yourself and others.
So remember: you made a mistake, but by accepting the fact and the responsibility you can set out on the path of recovery, and help assure yourself that it will not happen again. Blame, guilt, and shame all hold you back from reaching your goal.
Acceptance and responsibility are the keys that open the next door to your future.
Good luck to you on your journey!