‘I Just Want To Forget It’

Denial & Avoidance Are Natural But Will Not Help Scam Victims On Their Path To Recovery From Scams

Scam Victim Recovery Psychology

Author:
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

About This Article

Scam victims often express a desire to forget or live in peace as a means of escaping the pain and turmoil caused by their traumatic experience. While understandable, these sentiments can lead to denial and avoidance, hindering the recovery process.

Denial and avoidance prevent victims from acknowledging the severity of the scam’s impact, addressing their emotional distress, and seeking necessary support and resources. Living in denial also leaves victims vulnerable to prolonged emotional distress, impaired coping mechanisms, re-victimization, and hindered recovery.

Instead, scam victims must confront the reality of their experience, seek professional support, education, and develop healthy coping strategies to rebuild resilience and reclaim their lives. By embracing the journey of healing and resilience, victims can move from denial to acceptance and empower themselves to overcome the trauma of the scam.

SCARS Scam Victim Support & Recovery Program

When a Scam is over Scam Victims just want to Forget It

But this is not the path forward, this does not lead to Recovery. only to Denial and Avoidance!

Remember, Trauma is Not Caused by the Scam, it is Caused by the Scam Victims’ Response to the Scam

When scam victims express sentiments like “I just want to forget it” or “I just want to live in peace,” they often convey a deep desire to move on from the traumatic experience they endured. It is completely natural to want this.

These statements reflect their longing to escape the pain, distress, and disruption caused by the scam. Scam victims may feel overwhelmed by the emotional toll of the scam and the challenges they face in recovering from it. They almost always wish to avoid reliving the trauma and the associated feelings of shame, anger, and vulnerability. However, this can be exactly what can make the trauma worse.

These expressions indicate a yearning for a sense of normalcy and stability in their lives. Scam victims typically experience significant disruptions to their finances, relationships, and sense of security, leaving them longing for a return to a state of peace and tranquility. They often wish to regain a sense of control over their lives and find safety in a peaceful existence free from the turmoil caused by the scam.

Furthermore, these statements usually reflect a desire to protect themselves from further harm or exploitation. Scam victims may feel vulnerable and exposed, fearing judgment or scrutiny from others if they continue to dwell on their experience. By expressing a wish to forget or move on, they may be seeking to shield themselves from additional emotional pain or social stigma.

When scam victims express a desire to forget or live in peace, they are articulating their longing for healing, closure, and a return to a sense of normalcy in their lives. They may be seeking relief from the emotional burden of the scam and the hope of reclaiming their sense of security and well-being.

However, this is the wrong path. It leads to denial and avoidance. It will, in most cases avoid getting the help they need, learning how to avoid scams in the future, and how to find recovery emotionally and manage their trauma going forward.

Denial & Avoidance

Expressing a desire to forget or live in peace is indeed an expression of denial and avoidance. However, victims should not view that statement as judgmental, it is a statement of acknowledgment or validation of their pain, and also the turmoil going on in their mind.

While these sentiments stem from a genuine desire to move on from the trauma of the scam, they can also serve as negative coping mechanisms to avoid confronting the painful emotions and realities associated with the experience.

Denial is a common psychological defense mechanism that individuals use to protect themselves from overwhelming or distressing thoughts and feelings. By denying the severity or impact of the scam, victims may temporarily alleviate their distress and maintain a sense of psychological equilibrium. Similarly, avoidance involves consciously or unconsciously avoiding thoughts, memories, or situations that trigger negative emotions or anxiety.

However, with scam victimization, denial and avoidance can manifest as a reluctance to acknowledge the full extent of the harm caused by the scam, downplaying the significance of the experience, or avoiding discussions or actions related to the scam’s aftermath. Scam victims may minimize their losses, rationalize the perpetrator’s actions, or resist seeking support or assistance.

While denial and avoidance may provide temporary relief, they can ultimately impede the healing and recovery process. By avoiding confronting the trauma and its impact, victims may inadvertently prolong their suffering and hinder their ability to address underlying emotions and issues. Over time, unresolved trauma can lead to persistent distress, anxiety, and difficulties in functioning.

It’s important for scam victims to recognize the role of denial and avoidance in their coping strategies and to consider seeking professional support or therapy to address these patterns. By confronting the reality of their experience, processing their emotions, and developing healthy coping mechanisms, victims can take important steps toward healing and reclaiming their lives.

The Danger

For traumatized scam victims who choose to avoid facing the reality of the crime and prefer to live in denial, there are several potential dangers:

Prolonged Emotional Distress

Avoiding the reality of the scam and denying its impact can prolong emotional distress. Unprocessed trauma may continue to manifest in the form of anxiety, depression, anger, or other psychological symptoms, impacting the victim’s overall well-being and quality of life.

Impaired Coping Mechanisms

Denial may temporarily alleviate distress, but it does not address the underlying issues or provide effective coping mechanisms for managing emotions and stress. Without confronting the reality of the scam and seeking appropriate support, victims may rely on unhealthy coping strategies such as substance abuse, avoidance behaviors, or self-isolation.

Vulnerability to Re-Victimization

Scam victims who deny the reality of their experience may be more vulnerable to re-victimization. By minimizing the severity of the scam or dismissing warning signs, they may overlook red flags in future interactions or become more susceptible to similar fraudulent schemes.

Hindered Recovery Process

Denial can hinder the recovery process by preventing victims from accessing the support, resources, and interventions needed to heal from the trauma. Without acknowledging the impact of the scam and actively engaging in the recovery process, victims may struggle to address underlying emotions, rebuild trust, and regain a sense of safety and control.

Interpersonal Relationship Challenges

Denial of the scam’s impact may strain interpersonal relationships, as friends, family members, or support networks may find it difficult to provide meaningful support or understand the victim’s experiences. Misunderstandings, conflicts, or feelings of isolation may arise, further exacerbating the victim’s distress.

Financial and Legal Consequences

Ignoring the reality of the scam may have financial and legal consequences. Failure to address fraudulent transactions, report the scam to authorities, or seek restitution may result in ongoing financial losses, damaged credit, or legal complications.

The Influence of Denial and Avoidance

Here are SCARS 10 Steps to Disconnect from Denial and Avoidance:

  1. Reflect on Your Emotional Responses: Take time to reflect on your emotional responses to the scam experience. Are you feeling overwhelming emotions such as anger, shame, or fear? Denial and avoidance often manifest as an attempt to suppress or ignore these intense emotions.
  2. Consider Your Thoughts and Beliefs: Pay attention to your thoughts and beliefs about the scam. Are you minimizing the severity of the situation or rationalizing the perpetrator’s actions? Denial may involve downplaying the impact of the scam or dismissing warning signs.
  3. Evaluate Your Behavior: Examine your behavior in response to the scam. Are you avoiding discussions or actions related to the scam’s aftermath? Do you find yourself procrastinating on tasks such as reporting the scam or seeking support? Are you not participating fully in support groups or a recovery program?
  4. Assess Your Communication: Notice how you communicate about the scam with others, including the words and phrases you use. Are you reluctant to talk about your experience or disclose details about what happened? Avoidance may involve withdrawing from conversations or changing the subject when the scam is mentioned, even among discussions with other scam victims.
  5. Reflect on Your Reactions to Triggers: Pay attention to your reactions to triggers associated with the scam. Do certain sights, sounds, or situations evoke strong emotional responses or anxiety, and are you already starting to avoid them? Denial may lead to an aversion to confronting these triggers.
  6. Seek Feedback from Trusted Individuals: Reach out to trusted professionals, friends, or family members for feedback. Ask them if they have noticed any patterns of denial or avoidance in your behavior or communication regarding the scam.
  7. Consider Your Motivations: Reflect on your motivations for wanting to forget or avoid the scam. Are you seeking to protect yourself from further emotional pain or judgment? Denial often stems from a desire to maintain a sense of control or avoid facing difficult truths.
  8. Examine Your Coping Strategies: Evaluate the coping strategies you are using to manage your emotions and stress. Are you relying on unhealthy or negative coping mechanisms, Or worse on substance abuse or avoidance behaviors? Denial can lead to maladaptive coping strategies that provide temporary relief but postpone long-term healing.
  9. Assess Your Engagement with Recovery Resources: Consider your level of engagement with resources and support available for scam victims such as are available from SCARS. Are you actively seeking out information, therapy, or support group activity to help you process the trauma? Avoidance typically involves neglecting or resisting opportunities for recovery and healing.
  10. Monitor Your Progress Over Time: Keep track of your progress in addressing denial and avoidance tendencies. This includes memorializing important milestones in your recovery and life moving forward. Notice any changes in your behavior, thoughts, and emotions as you take steps to confront the reality of the scam experience and seek or participate in support for recovery. It may take time and effort, but gradually overcoming denial and avoidance can lead to meaningful healing and resilience.

Moving Forward for Real

Moving from a position of denial, avoidance, or resistance to acceptance and embracing the need to manage trauma and rebuild resilience can be a challenging but ultimately empowering process for scam victims. Here are some steps that individuals can take to facilitate this transition:

Acknowledging the Reality

The first step is to acknowledge the reality of the scam and its impact. This involves accepting that one has been victimized by the crime, recognizing the emotional toll and trauma of the experience, and validating one’s feelings of distress, anger, or betrayal. It is also necessary to accept that they are not personally going to fully understand these crimes at first, that they have to (like it or not) trust law enforcement to do their job, that the criminals may never be punished or at least they may never know if they are, that they money is probably unrecoverable but in some cases, it must be reported as soon as possible is needed, and that they will forever be changed by the experience.

Seeking Support

It’s essential for scam victims to reach out for professional certified trauma-informed support from professionals who can provide empathy, validation, education, and guidance. Support groups that are provided by real nonprofit organizations who are global experts in the psychology of scams and victim recovery like SCARS can offer a safe space to share experiences, receive validation, learn why these crimes happen and how, and access resources for healing and recovery. To sign up for SCARS support & recovery groups visit support.AgainstScams.org

Education and Awareness

Unlike most other forms of crime, knowledge is required both to recover from the experience and to avoid becoming prey again. Learning about the dynamics of scams, common manipulation and control tactics used by fraudsters, and the psychological effects of victimization really do help individuals gain insight into their experience, reduce feelings of shame or self-blame, understand their own vulnerabilities, accept that it really was not their fault, and come to terms with the path ahead of them. Begin learning at ScamVictimsSupptr.org, as well as ScamsNOW.com and RomanceScamsNOW.com

Education empowers victims to recognize warning signs, protect themselves from future scams, and make informed decisions about their recovery journey. This includes the series of self-help books published by SCARS at shop.AgainstScams.org

Facing Emotions

Embracing the need to manage trauma involves facing and processing difficult emotions associated with the scam experience. This may involve allowing oneself to feel anger, grief, fear, or sadness, and expressing these emotions in healthy ways such as journaling, art therapy, or talking with a therapist. SCARS recommends that every scam victim be evaluated by a professional licensed trauma therapist if for no other reason than to help better understand how they can face the future.

Seeking professional help from trauma therapists or counselors, or support groups specialized in trauma recovery can provide invaluable support and guidance throughout the healing journey. Professional intervention can offer evidence-based treatments, coping strategies, and emotional support tailored to the individual’s unique needs and circumstances.

Trauma therapists help victims with managing current and past trauma that form a critical part of their vulnerability. Visit counseling.AgainstScams.org to find a therapist worldwide.

Developing Coping Strategies

Building resilience requires developing healthy coping strategies to manage stress, regulate emotions, and navigate challenges effectively. This may include practicing mindfulness, engaging in relaxation techniques, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, and seeking professional support for mental health concerns.

Setting Boundaries

Establishing boundaries with oneself and others is very important for self-care and protection during the recovery process. This may involve setting limits on exposure to triggering stimuli, toxic people (especially very judgmental family members or friends)  – especially anger and hate-oriented anti-scam groups, assertively communicating needs and preferences, and prioritizing activities that promote well-being and healing.

Finding Meaning and Purpose

Moving beyond the ‘victim identity’ involves rediscovering meaning and purpose in life. Engaging in activities that bring joy, fulfillment, mindfulness, gratitude, and a sense of accomplishment can help to rebuild resilience and empower individuals to move forward with positive optimism and a renewed sense of purpose.

Taking Action

Taking proactive steps to address the aftermath of the scam, such as reporting the fraud to authorities, seeking monetary restitution and recovery through law enforcement (if possible or accepting if it is not), or volunteering to help scam awareness and prevention (such as with SCARS), can empower victims to reclaim a sense of agency and control over their lives.

Embracing Growth

Viewing the scam experience as an opportunity for growth and personal development can rebuild resilience and facilitate post-traumatic growth (important for learning to manage trauma.) By properly reframing challenges as opportunities for learning and self-discovery, individuals can cultivate resilience and thrive in the face of adversity.

By taking these proactive steps and embracing the journey of healing and resilience, scam victims can gradually move from a position of denial, avoidance, or resistance to one of acceptance, empowerment, and realistic hope for the future.

Summary

Living in denial can perpetuate the cycle of victimization and hinder the path to recovery for scam victims. It’s crucial for victims to acknowledge the reality of their experience, seek support from trusted individuals or professionals, and actively engage in the healing process to overcome the trauma and rebuild their lives.

Statement About Victim Blaming

Some of our articles discuss various aspects of victims. This is both about better understanding victims (the science of victimology) and their behaviors and psychology. This helps us to educate victims/survivors about why these crimes happened and to not blame themselves, better develop recovery programs, and to help victims avoid scams in the future. At times this may sound like blaming the victim, but it does not blame scam victims, we are simply explaining the hows and whys of the experience victims have.

These articles, about the Psychology of Scams or Victim Psychology – meaning that all humans have psychological or cognitive characteristics in common that can either be exploited or work against us – help us all to understand the unique challenges victims face before, during, and after scams, fraud, or cybercrimes. These sometimes talk about some of the vulnerabilities the scammers exploit. Victims rarely have control of them or are even aware of them, until something like a scam happens and then they can learn how their mind works and how to overcome these mechanisms.

Articles like these help victims and others understand these processes and how to help prevent them from being exploited again or to help them recover more easily by understanding their post-scam behaviors. Learn more about the Psychology of Scams at www.ScamPsychology.org

Psychology Disclaimer:

All articles about psychology and the human brain on this website are for information & education only

The information provided in this and other SCARS articles are intended for educational and self-help purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional therapy or counseling.

Note about Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices have the potential to create psychological distress for some individuals. Please consult a mental health professional or experienced meditation instructor for guidance should you encounter difficulties.

While any self-help techniques outlined herein may be beneficial for scam victims seeking to recover from their experience and move towards recovery, it is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional before initiating any course of action. Each individual’s experience and needs are unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another.

Additionally, any approach may not be appropriate for individuals with certain pre-existing mental health conditions or trauma histories. It is advisable to seek guidance from a licensed therapist or counselor who can provide personalized support, guidance, and treatment tailored to your specific needs.

If you are experiencing significant distress or emotional difficulties related to a scam or other traumatic event, please consult your doctor or mental health provider for appropriate care and support.

If you are in crisis, feeling desperate, or in despair please call 988 or your local crisis hotline.

Important Information for New Scam Victims

If you are looking for local trauma counselors please visit counseling.AgainstScams.org or join SCARS for our counseling/therapy benefit: membership.AgainstScams.org

If you need to speak with someone now, you can dial 988 or find phone numbers for crisis hotlines all around the world here: www.opencounseling.com/suicide-hotlines

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.

Opinions

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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