Anger & Self-Radicalization

How Scam Victims Radicalize Themselves

Recovery Psychology

•  Vianey Gonzalez – Psychologist, Certified Deception Professional, Psychology Advisory Panel & Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

Anger & Self-Radicalization – When A Relationship Scam Ends Victims Face Many Demons, From Shock To Fear & Horror To Desperation To Anger!

Anger can often be the default state when a scam is discovered, a victim’s world collapses and what they thought was real and certain is proved to be anything but. The desire for certainty in some victims can be overwhelming regardless of what the impact will be on them psychologically.

Many victims will give in to denial as a way of coping with the incredible trauma they experience. While others, more realistic know that something terrible happened to them and they need help to survive it. However, another group trying to cope with their fear transforms their fear into anger, using this as a way to stabilize their world and create certainty where none now exists.

We have explored anger in many other articles, but this time we are going to explore something different: how scam victims self-radicalize and increase their anger (irritability, frustration, desire for justice – those are all manifestations of anger) all driven by the desperate need for certainty and to cope with their underlying fear.

Trigger Warning

If you are an angry scam victim then this article is going to make you angrier. If you are sufficiently far down the angry path you will not even see it in yourself anymore, though others can. We recommend that you skip it and find a good trauma counselor or therapist to help you unwind from that anger and the trauma you have experienced. Please go to to find help!

Please note that we ARE NOT blaming you. This is not your fault any more than the scam was, but you are relying on negative coping mechanisms that are harming you. Please make an effort to get professional help. The longer you wait the harder it will be to eradicate.

What is Self-Radicalization in Scam Victims

Self-radicalization is the process by which an individual comes to adopt certain harmful beliefs on their own, with or without the direct influence of a group or organization. This can happen through a variety of factors, including:

  • Exposure to content online or in person: Individuals may be exposed to harmful content through social media, websites, or personal interactions. This content can be persuasive and may lead individuals to adopt certain harmful beliefs.
  • Personal experiences: Individuals may experience personal events that lead them to feel angry, disillusioned, or isolated. These experiences can make them more susceptible to harmful ideology.
  • Psychological factors: Individuals with certain psychological traits may be more likely to self-radicalize. These traits can include a strong need for belonging, a desire for justice, or a tendency toward vigilantism.

The process of self-radicalization can be gradual and may take months to unfold, but it can be much quicker when a person comes into it already traumatized and desperate for answers. It is important to note that not everyone who is exposed to harmful content will self-radicalize. However, there are certain factors that can increase the risk of self-radicalization, such as:

  • Lack of social support: Individuals who are isolated or lack social support, who feel profound shame and self-blame, may be more likely to self-radicalize.
  • Mental health problems: Individuals with mental health problems may be more likely to self-radicalize, especially if they are not receiving treatment – this can include the trauma from a scam.
  • Personal grievances: Individuals who have personal grievances, such as anger towards a particular group or government, may be more likely to self-radicalize. Scam victims often feel that their governments and police have let them down and that they have to take matters into their own hands, mistaken as this is.

Self-Radicalization can have Serious Consequences, both for the Individual and for Society.

Individuals who self-radicalize may become involved in hate and vigilantism. They may also become alienated from their families and friends because of the anger the manifest. Society as a whole may suffer from the effects of this because these are often victims who will never report these crimes.

About Scam Victim Anger, Irritation, Frustration, and Rage

While trauma affects individuals in diverse ways, one common response among crime victims is the experience of consuming anger.

The emotional aftermath of victimization can trigger an array of intense feelings, and anger often becomes a dominant emotion. Here’s an exploration of how and why traumatized crime victims might become consumed by anger.

The Impact of Trauma on Emotions

Trauma reshapes the emotional landscape, causing intense and overwhelming emotions. Anger, a natural response to feeling violated or powerless, can become a prevailing emotion. Victims might grapple with deep-seated rage, seeking to process the injustice done to them. This anger can stem from a sense of betrayal, loss of control, or shattered trust in others.

Anger as a Coping Mechanism

For some victims, anger acts as a defense mechanism. It serves as a shield, guarding against vulnerability and pain. It might be easier to express anger than to confront deeper emotions like fear, grief, or helplessness associated with the crime. In this way, anger becomes a coping strategy, a way to maintain a sense of control amid chaos.

Anger’s Pervasive Effects

The consuming nature of anger can infiltrate various aspects of a victim’s life. It affects relationships, work, and mental well-being. Interpersonal relationships may suffer as victims grapple with the intensity of their emotions, potentially pushing away loved ones due to anger’s unpredictability.

Impact on Mental Health

Persistent anger can contribute to mental health challenges. It may lead to conditions like chronic stress, anxiety, or depression. Victims might struggle with insomnia, have difficulty concentrating, or experience mood swings due to the overwhelming nature of their emotions.

The Quest for Justice and Closure

The quest for justice can amplify anger. If victims perceive a lack of justice or believe the perpetrator has escaped consequences, their anger intensifies. The absence of closure prolongs their emotional turmoil, making it harder to move forward.

Breaking the Cycle of Anger

Acknowledging and processing anger is crucial in the healing journey. Seeking professional support through therapy or support groups can provide a safe space to explore and manage these emotions. Developing healthy coping mechanisms, such as mindfulness, exercise, or creative outlets, helps in managing anger’s intensity.

Escalation of Anger

Emotions can be contagious and being around individuals (other scam victims) expressing strong emotions, like anger, can influence and amplify our own emotional state. This phenomenon is known as emotional contagion. When exposed to someone else’s anger, our brain might react by triggering similar emotions, leading to an increase in our own feelings of anger.

Moreover, spending time in an environment where anger is prevalent can normalize this emotion, making it seem more acceptable or justifiable. This normalization can perpetuate and reinforce one’s own anger, contributing to a cycle of escalating emotions when consistently surrounded by angry individuals or situations.

Self-Radicalization of Scam Victims

As previously said, being around other victims who are indulging in their anger and rage should be avoided. But other activities that may seem harmless are far from it. Scam victims get drawn into activities promoted by other angry victims and on the surface they might seem like they contribute something important, but they do not. They are just ways for victims to intensify their anger and self-justification for their anger.

Activities that Scam Victims engage in that Increases Anger, Irritability, Frustration and Lead to Rage and Hate!

  • Expose & Shame: the majority of new scam victims get pulled into social media groups that focus on the shaming and exposing of fake profiles and scammers. These groups mistakenly or deceptively convince new victims that this is the way to catch scammers. Yet these activities do not serve real-world objectives. They do not result in arrests, and hardly ever help victims avoid scams. Instead, they agrivate the victim’s sense of frustration, loss of faith in law enforcement, and general anger against the criminals, personalizing the criminals even more in the minds of the victims who participate in these activities.
  • Scam Baiting: Scambaiting is a form of vigilantism. Victims try to become investigators and gain (what they think) is valuable information from the criminals. However, this is just a self-justified vigilante activity that has almost no value to law enforcement. Scam Baiters justify their activity by claiming they are wasting the time of scammers, but they are not, the only criminals that will continue a connection with scambaiters are the lower level (trainee) criminals who do not know better.

These activities become a reason to get up in the morning for those devoted to them. However, what they are actually doing is harming their own psychology and transforming their trauma into hate.

Anger & Trauma

Anger in traumatized crime victims can manifest in various ways:

  1. Irritability: Victims might become easily irritable, reacting strongly to small triggers or feeling tense and on edge.
  2. Outbursts: Sudden and intense bursts of anger might occur, often seemingly out of proportion to the situation.
  3. Recklessness: Some individuals may engage in reckless behaviors or take risks due to anger, seeking outlets for their emotions.
  4. Physical symptoms: Anger can manifest as physical symptoms such as clenched muscles, increased heart rate, sweating, or headaches.
  5. Avoidance: Victims might avoid situations or people that trigger their anger, leading to isolation or withdrawal.
  6. Self-directed anger: Sometimes, victims direct anger inwardly, blaming themselves for the crime or feeling angry about their perceived inability to prevent it.
  7. Difficulty managing emotions: Trauma can make it challenging to manage emotions effectively, leading to difficulty in controlling anger.

These manifestations can vary greatly from person to person and depend on the nature of the trauma and individual coping mechanisms.

Anger & Self-Radicalization Can Lead to More Serious Psychological Issues

Anger in scam victims can contribute to the development of more serious mental issues and disorders in several ways:

  1. Heightened Stress and Anxiety: The emotional turmoil caused by scam victimization can amplify existing stress and anxiety levels. Anger, often accompanied by frustration, helplessness, and betrayal, can exacerbate these underlying mental health concerns.
  2. Diminished Sense of Self-Worth and Trust: The experience of being deceived and manipulated can erode a scam victim’s sense of self-worth and trust in others. Anger, stemming from feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability, can further diminish their self-esteem and make it difficult to form meaningful connections.
  3. Impaired Emotional Regulation: The emotional chaos of scam victimization can overwhelm a person’s ability to regulate their emotions effectively. Anger, when uncontrolled, can manifest in impulsive behaviors, social withdrawal, and self-destructive tendencies.
  4. Exacerbation of Existing Mental Health Conditions: For individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions or past trauma, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the anger associated with scam victimization can exacerbate their symptoms. The emotional upheaval can trigger depressive episodes, intensify anxiety, and re-traumatize individuals with PTSD.
  5. Delayed Treatment-Seeking: Anger can hinder a scam victim’s willingness to seek professional help. Feeling ashamed, embarrassed, or angry about being scammed may prevent them from reaching out for the support they need to address their emotional distress.
  6. Isolation and Negative Social Interactions: Anger can lead to social withdrawal, making it difficult for scam victims to maintain healthy relationships and seek support from loved ones. This isolation can further exacerbate their mental health issues.
  7. Self-Directed Anger and Rumination: Scam victims may direct their anger inward, blaming themselves for falling victim to the scam. This self-directed anger, coupled with rumination on the event, can lead to feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and shame.
  8. Increased Risk of Substance Abuse: To cope with the emotional distress caused by scam victimization, some individuals may turn to substance abuse as a means of escape. This can lead to addiction and further complicate their mental health struggles.
  9. Difficulties in Achieving Closure: Anger can make it difficult for scam victims to achieve closure and move on from the experience. They may remain fixated on the scam, replaying the events in their minds, and harboring resentment towards the perpetrators.
  10. Erosion of Quality of Life: The combination of anger and other emotional distress associated with scam victimization can significantly impair a person’s overall quality of life. Their ability to function in their daily lives, maintain relationships, and pursue their goals can be severely compromised.

It is crucial for scam victims to acknowledge and address their anger in a healthy and constructive manner. Seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can provide them with the tools and strategies to manage their anger effectively and prevent it from escalating into more serious mental health issues.

Managing Scam Victim Anger & Self-Radicalization

Anger is a natural and understandable reaction to trauma, and it is important to recognize that it is a normal part of the healing process. However, when anger becomes excessive or uncontrollable, it can interfere with a person’s life and well-being.

It is important for crime victims to find healthy ways to cope with their anger so that it does not become a destructive force in their lives. And of course, that means avoiding other angry people, such as other angry scam victims.

There are a number of effective coping mechanisms that crime victims can use to manage their anger. These include:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can be a great way to release pent-up anger and tension.
  • Relaxation techniques: Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can help to calm the mind and body.
  • Journaling: Writing about their experiences can help victims to process their emotions and make sense of what has happened.
  • Talking to a therapist: A therapist can provide support and guidance in developing healthy coping mechanisms for anger.

Support groups are also a very valuable resource for crime victims. SCARS groups provide a safe and supportive space for victims to share their experiences and connect with others who understand what they are going through. To sign up for a SCARS Support Group go to

If anger is causing significant problems in a victim’s life, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can help victims to understand their anger, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and work through the underlying trauma.

Here are some additional tips for coping with anger after being a crime victim:

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs: These substances can worsen anger and make it more difficult to control.
  • Get enough sleep: When sleep-deprived, it is more difficult to regulate emotions.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating nutritious foods can help to improve mood and energy levels.
  • Take breaks: When feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes to step away from the situation and calm down.
  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques can help to focus on the present moment and let go of negative thoughts.

It is important to remember that healing from trauma takes time. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to experience your emotions. With time and support, you can learn to manage your anger and build a healthy and fulfilling life.

There are a number of things that can also be done to prevent Self-Radicalization. These include:

  • Education and Awareness: It is important to educate people about the dangers of their approach and to help them identify signs of self-radicalization.
  • Support & Recovery Community Engagement: Strong support communities can help to protect individuals from self-radicalization by providing them with support and belonging.
  • Mental Health Care: Individuals who are struggling with mental health problems should have access to treatment. To find counseling or therapy resources go to
  • Countering Harmful Content Online: Efforts should be made to counter harmful content online and not simply tolerate it.

Preventing self-radicalization is a complex challenge, but it is an important one. By taking steps to address the factors that contribute to self-radicalization, we can help protect individuals and society from the dangers of unhealthy beliefs and behaviors.

When Self-Help Anger Control is Not Enough

When self-help strategies are not enough to manage anger, professional approaches can provide effective tools and support for individuals struggling with anger issues. These approaches typically involve a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.


Therapy is a cornerstone of professional anger management treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a particularly effective approach, as it focuses on identifying and modifying negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to anger outbursts. CBT therapists can help individuals:

  • Recognize and challenge distorted thinking patterns that fuel anger
  • Develop effective communication and conflict-resolution skills
  • Implement relaxation techniques to manage stress and reduce physiological arousal
  • Practice mindfulness and emotional regulation strategies
  • Identify and avoid personal triggers that escalate anger


In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage underlying mental health conditions that contribute to anger, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety medications can help regulate emotional responses and reduce impulsive behaviors.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can also play a significant role in managing anger. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep can promote overall well-being and reduce irritability. Additionally, avoiding alcohol and drugs is crucial, as these substances can exacerbate anger and impair judgment.

Specific Professional Approaches

  • Anger Management Groups: These groups provide a supportive environment for individuals to share experiences, learn coping strategies, and receive feedback from peers and group leaders.
  • Individual Anger Management Therapy: This involves one-on-one sessions with a therapist who specializes in anger management. Therapists can tailor treatment plans to address individual needs and circumstances.
  • Couples Anger Management Therapy: This involves therapy sessions for couples who struggle with anger issues that affect their relationship. Therapists can help couples identify patterns, improve communication, and develop conflict resolution skills.
  • Family Anger Management Therapy: This involves therapy sessions for families where anger is a significant issue. Therapists can help families establish healthy communication patterns, develop conflict resolution skills, and address underlying family dynamics that contribute to anger issues.

It is important to remember that seeking professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Anger is a powerful emotion, and it can be difficult to manage on one’s own. With the right support and guidance, individuals can learn to control their anger and improve their overall well-being.

What to do right NOW!

The first step in trying to control anger is to abstain from any activity that exposes the victim to these crimes and criminals.

That means leaving any social media exposure groups or any groups that are involved in any form of vigilantism such as scambaiting. If you are participating in any social media groups or following individuals, look at the tone of the language they use and what they express. If it seems hostile or aggressive then leave.

Immediately join a professional support and recovery program that reinforces positive values and helps you turn away from anger such as SCARS Support & Recovery Groups. All SCARS Support Groups are free, safe, and confidential. To sign up visit

We also recommend that every scam victims find trauma counseling or therapy. For resources go to


For traumatized scam victims, anger can feel like an all-encompassing emotion, profoundly affecting their lives. Recognizing the complexities of anger and its impact on mental well-being is crucial. By seeking support, understanding triggers, and working through the emotional turmoil, victims can gradually move beyond the consuming nature of anger toward healing and recovery.

SCARS Resources:

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Society of Citizens Against Rleationship Scams Inc. The author is solely responsible for the content of their work. SCARS is protected under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 230 from liability.







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