Scam Victims Use Work To Avoid Healing

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

When Scam Victims Throw Themselves Into Their Work After A Scam It Can Be To Avoid Confronting What Has Happened To Them

When scam victims experience trauma, it can have a profound impact on their emotional well-being and daily lives.

In some cases, trauma survivors may immerse themselves deeply in their work as a coping mechanism to avoid thinking or feeling the pain associated with their traumatic experiences.

Trauma can have a profound impact on a scam victim, both emotionally and mentally. In some cases, traumatized victims may find it difficult to cope with their emotions and may turn to work as a way to avoid dealing with their trauma.

Allowing Work To Consume You

There are a number of reasons why traumatized people may allow their work to consume them.

One reason is that work can provide a sense of control and structure. When someone has experienced trauma, they may feel a loss of control over their life. Work can offer a sense of stability and predictability, which can be helpful for people who are struggling to cope with trauma – up to a point!

Another reason why traumatized people may work excessively is that it can provide a distraction from their pain. When people are working, they are focused on the task at hand and they may not have time to think about their trauma. This can be a temporary relief, but it does not address the underlying issue of their trauma and grief – they still need to learn to manage and process these to heal!

Finally, some traumatized people may work excessively as a way to avoid dealing with their emotions. When people are traumatized, they may experience a range of difficult emotions, such as fear, anger, sadness, shame, embarrassment, and guilt. These emotions can be overwhelming and painful, and some people may try to avoid them by working all the time. Working can also help to shut down the voices in their head. But again, avoiding the trauma and grief does not make it go away, it just allows the pressure to build.

Let’s Explore This In Detail:

Distraction from Emotional Pain

Engaging in work can serve as a distraction from the emotional pain and distress caused by trauma. By pouring their energy and focus into work-related tasks, individuals may find temporary relief from intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or overwhelming emotions associated with the traumatic event.

For traumatized scam victims, using work as a way to distract themselves from emotional pain can serve as a coping mechanism to temporarily alleviate distress.

Here’s how this distraction function may operate:

  • Shifted Focus: Engaging in work allows scam victims to redirect their attention and energy toward tasks and responsibilities. By immersing themselves in work-related activities, they shift their focus away from painful emotions, intrusive thoughts, or traumatic memories associated with the scam.
  • Sense of Control: Traumatic experiences can leave individuals feeling helpless and out of control. By focusing on work, victims regain a sense of agency and control over their professional lives. The structured nature of work provides a clear framework and goals, empowering them to direct their efforts and achieve a sense of accomplishment.
  • Temporary Relief: Work can offer temporary respite from emotional pain. The cognitive demands and active engagement required in work tasks can occupy the mind, providing a temporary escape from distressing thoughts and emotions. This temporary relief can provide a much-needed break from the overwhelming psychological burden associated with the scam.
  • Achievement and Validation: Work can provide a source of validation and self-worth for scam victims. Accomplishing tasks, receiving positive feedback, or achieving professional goals can boost self-esteem and provide a sense of competence and purpose. This validation helps to counteract feelings of vulnerability, inadequacy, or worthlessness stemming from the trauma.
  • Structured Routine: Following a structured routine through work can bring stability and a sense of normalcy to the lives of scam victims. Having a clear schedule and defined responsibilities can provide a sense of order and stability, acting as a grounding force amidst the chaos and uncertainty caused by the scam.
  • Delaying Emotional Processing: Engaging in work can delay the need to confront and process difficult emotions associated with the scam. It can act as a temporary coping mechanism to avoid the immediate discomfort of facing the emotional aftermath of the trauma. However, it is important to note that delaying emotional processing may hinder long-term healing and recovery.

While using work as a distraction from emotional pain can provide some short-term relief, it is crucial for scam victims to balance their focus on work with addressing their emotional well-being (meaning recovery.) It is important to seek support from mental health professionals, engage in therapy or counseling, remain active in support groups, and develop holistic coping strategies that allow for the processing and healing of emotional pain associated with the scam. By addressing emotional needs alongside work commitments, scam victims can foster a more comprehensive and sustainable path to recovery.

Sense of Control and Mastery

Traumatic experiences can leave survivors feeling a loss of control and a sense of helplessness. Immersing themselves in work can provide a sense of structure, purpose, and achievement, offering a perceived sense of control over their professional lives when other aspects may feel chaotic or unpredictable.

Using work as a means for traumatized scam victims to regain a sense of control and mastery over themselves can serve as a coping mechanism to counteract the feelings of helplessness and vulnerability caused by the scam.

Here’s how this control function operates:

  • Restoring Agency: Traumatic experiences, such as falling victim to a scam, can leave individuals feeling powerless and stripped of control. Engaging in work allows scam victims to regain a sense of agency and autonomy. They can make decisions, set goals, and take actions within their professional domain, which provides a tangible way to regain control over their lives.
  • Establishing Structure: Work offers a structured framework, including tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines. This structure provides a sense of order and stability in the aftermath of a traumatic event. It helps victims establish routines, prioritize activities, and regain a sense of normalcy, which can contribute to a sense of control over their daily lives.
  • Setting Achievable Goals: By setting goals within their work environment, scam victims can experience a sense of purpose and accomplishment. They can break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps, allowing them to witness progress and success. This process fosters a sense of mastery, enhancing their self-confidence and reinforcing their ability to take charge of their professional endeavors.
  • Focusing on Competence: Engaging in work allows scam victims to utilize their skills, knowledge, and expertise in a familiar domain. This emphasis on competence provides an opportunity to showcase their abilities and reaffirm their professional identity. It can bolster self-esteem and restore a sense of mastery over their skills and capabilities.
  • Reducing Vulnerability: Work environments often involve predictable routines, clear roles, and defined expectations. By immersing themselves in work-related tasks, scam victims can create a controlled environment that reduces feelings of vulnerability. Having a level of predictability and structure in their work can provide a sense of safety and stability.
  • Enhancing Decision-Making: Work requires individuals to make decisions, solve problems, and exercise judgment. Engaging in work-related decision-making processes allows scam victims to regain their confidence in their ability to make choices and exercise control over their professional lives. This can spill over into their personal lives, helping them rebuild their decision-making capacity more broadly.

It is important to note that while work can offer a sense of control and mastery, it should not be the sole focus of recovery. It is crucial for scam victims to also address the emotional impact of the trauma and seek professional support, such as therapy or counseling. By integrating a holistic approach that balances work responsibilities with emotional healing, scam victims can cultivate a more comprehensive path towards recovery, regaining control over various aspects of their lives.

Avoidance and Suppression

Some individuals may consciously or unconsciously use work as a means of avoiding or suppressing painful memories or emotions related to the trauma. By constantly staying busy and occupied, they create a protective barrier that keeps them from confronting unresolved issues or engaging in emotional processing.

Using work as a means to avoid and suppress their feelings can function as a coping mechanism to temporarily escape or numb the emotional pain associated with the scam.

Here’s how this avoidance function operates:

  • Distraction from Emotional Distress: Engaging in work can provide a temporary reprieve from the intense emotional distress caused by the scam. By focusing their attention and energy on work-related tasks, victims may divert their thoughts away from painful emotions, intrusive memories, or overwhelming feelings related to the traumatic event.
  • Numbing Effect: Immersing oneself in work can create a numbing effect, dampening or suppressing difficult emotions. By busying themselves with work, victims may intentionally or unintentionally push aside feelings of sadness, anger, fear, or shame associated with the scam, allowing them to function in their professional roles without confronting or fully experiencing the emotional impact of the trauma.
  • Avoidance of Triggers: Work can serve as a safe haven from triggers that may evoke distressing emotions or memories of the scam. The structured and predictable nature of work environments may provide a sense of stability and control, allowing victims to avoid situations or stimuli that could potentially reawaken their emotional pain.
  • Masking Vulnerability: Traumatic experiences can leave individuals feeling vulnerable and exposed. By immersing themselves in work, scam victims may create a façade of strength and competence, hiding their true emotional state from others. This masking can provide a sense of protection and prevent others from recognizing their vulnerability.
  • Postponing Emotional Processing: Engaging in work may delay the need to confront and process challenging emotions associated with the scam. By continuously occupying their time and energy with work-related responsibilities, victims may postpone or avoid engaging in the necessary emotional work required for healing and recovery.

However, it is important to note that using work as a means to avoid or suppress emotions can have potential negative consequences:

Self-Worth and Identity

For some traumatized individuals, their work may become closely intertwined with their self-worth and identity. They may derive a sense of validation, accomplishment, and meaning from their professional roles, using work as a way to maintain a positive self-image or a distraction from feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy stemming from the trauma.

Using work as a means for scam victims to improve their self-worth and identity can function as a coping mechanism to regain a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and validation in the aftermath of the scam.

Here’s how this coping function operates:

  • Restoration of Purpose: Traumatic experiences can shake one’s sense of purpose and meaning in life. Engaging in work allows scam victims to establish a renewed sense of purpose, providing them with a focus and direction. By dedicating themselves to their professional endeavors, they can regain a sense of personal value and contribution.
  • Achievement and Validation: Work offers opportunities for achievement and recognition, which can positively impact self-worth. Accomplishing tasks, meeting goals, receiving praise or promotions, and experiencing success in the workplace can validate a scam victim’s skills, abilities, and worthiness, helping rebuild their self-esteem.
  • Professional Identity: Work provides a platform for individuals to develop and assert their professional identities. By investing themselves in their work roles, scam victims can rebuild their sense of self in the context of their careers. This renewed professional identity can serve as a source of pride, enhancing their self-perception and confidence.
  • Skills and Expertise Utilization: Engaging in work allows scam victims to utilize their skills, knowledge, and expertise. Applying their talents and competencies in their professional roles reaffirms their capabilities and contributes to a positive self-perception. This utilization of skills can help reestablish a sense of competence and mastery.
  • External Recognition: Work environments often offer opportunities for external recognition, such as performance evaluations, promotions, or awards. Receiving recognition from colleagues, superiors, or clients can validate a scam victim’s contributions and enhance their self-worth. Positive feedback and acknowledgment can counteract any self-doubt or diminished self-esteem resulting from the scam.
  • Professional Growth and Development: Engaging in work-related tasks and challenges provides opportunities for personal growth and skill development. By actively investing in their professional development, scam victims can enhance their confidence and expand their expertise. This continuous growth reinforces a positive self-image and cultivates a sense of worthiness.

However, it is important to note that relying solely on work to improve self-worth and identity can have potential negative consequences

Avoidance of Social Interactions

Work can provide a convenient excuse to avoid social interactions, which may trigger anxiety, discomfort, or reminders of the traumatic event. By burying themselves in work, individuals may isolate themselves from potentially triggering situations or from having to discuss their trauma with others.

Using work as a means to avoid social interactions can function as a coping mechanism to protect themselves from potential triggers, discomfort, or reminders of the traumatic event.

Here’s how this avoidance function operates:

  • Minimizing Triggers: Traumatic experiences can lead to heightened sensitivity to certain stimuli or social situations that may trigger distressing emotions or memories. By immersing themselves in work, scam victims create a controlled environment where they can limit exposure to potential triggers, minimizing the chances of experiencing emotional distress.
  • Avoiding Difficult Conversations: Social interactions may involve discussions about the scam or its aftermath, which can be uncomfortable or overwhelming for victims. By focusing on work-related tasks and responsibilities, they can avoid conversations that may elicit emotional discomfort or require them to disclose sensitive information about their experience.
  • Masking Vulnerability: Engaging in work allows scam victims to present themselves in a professional capacity, focusing on their competencies and achievements rather than their vulnerability as a survivor of the scam. This masking of vulnerability shields them from potential judgment, pity, or intrusive inquiries from others, helping them maintain a sense of privacy and protection.
  • Reducing Anxiety and Social Pressure: Social interactions can be anxiety-inducing for individuals who have experienced trauma. Engaging in work-related activities allows scam victims to avoid the potential pressure of social expectations, social cues, or unfamiliar social dynamics. Work provides a familiar and structured environment where they can focus on specific tasks rather than navigating complex social situations.
  • Seeking Solitude and Emotional Safety: Work provides a sense of solitude and emotional safety for scam victims. They may perceive work as a space where they have more control over their interactions and can retreat from potential social risks. By immersing themselves in work, they create a boundary that offers a sense of security and protection from potentially triggering social encounters.

It is important to note that while avoiding social interactions through work may initially provide a sense of safety, it is crucial for scam victims to balance their isolation with healthy social engagement and support. Over-reliance on work as a means of avoidance can lead to prolonged isolation, hinder healing, and limit opportunities for growth and connection.

Work Helps But Not As Much As You Think

While work can provide some temporary relief from trauma, it is important for traumatized people to seek professional help. Therapy can help people to process their trauma and learn how to cope with their emotions in a healthy way. Working excessively is not a sustainable solution to trauma, and it can actually make the symptoms worse in the long run.

If you are a traumatized person who is struggling with work, there are a few things you can do to help yourself.

First, it is important to acknowledge that you are struggling. There is no shame in seeking help and joining a support group and talking to a therapist can make a big difference.

Second, you need to set boundaries with work. This means setting limits on how much time you work and making sure you have time for other activities, such as spending time with loved ones and doing things you enjoy, and staying active in your recovery.

Finally, you need to find healthy ways to cope with your emotions. This may include exercise, journaling, mindfulness, or spending time in nature. If you are struggling to cope on your own, a support group ( and therapist ( can help you develop coping strategies that work for you.

Potential Consequences and Considerations

While immersing oneself in work may offer temporary relief, it is important to recognize the potential consequences and consider healthier coping strategies:

  • Avoiding Reporting The Crime To The Police: Working can be a mechanism that allows scam victims to avoid thinking about the need to report the crime to law enforcement. Unfortunately, more and more this makes potential legal consequences worse too. Victims need to report these crimes for all the right reasons, but also to make sure that they are on record as being an innocent victim, since victims may have no idea what they were dragged into by the criminals.
  • Emotional Burden: Unaddressed emotions can accumulate over time, leading to increased distress, anxiety, or depression. Avoiding or suppressing emotions may hinder the natural healing process and prolong the resolution of trauma-related emotional wounds.
  • Emotional Suppression: Constantly burying emotions can prevent individuals from fully processing and healing from the trauma. Unresolved emotions may resurface later, leading to prolonged distress and potential long-term psychological impacts.
  • Burnout and Physical Exhaustion: Excessive immersion in work can lead to burnout, chronic stress, and physical exhaustion.  Allowing work to consume every aspect of life can lead to chronic stress, burnout, and physical exhaustion. Neglecting self-care, boundaries, and personal relationships can have detrimental effects on overall well-being, impacting both physical and mental health.
  • Avoidance of Healing Process: By avoiding thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma, individuals may inadvertently impede their healing process. Engaging in therapy, seeking support, and actively addressing the trauma are essential for long-term recovery.
  • Impact on Relationships: Overreliance on work as a coping mechanism can strain personal relationships. Focusing solely on work can strain personal relationships, as individuals may neglect important connections and fail to engage in meaningful social interactions. Victims may unintentionally distance themselves from loved ones or neglect important social connections, leading to a lack of emotional support and potential isolation. This isolation can hinder support networks and impede the healing process.
  • Overemphasis on External Validation: Depending solely on external validation from work-related achievements can make self-worth vulnerable to fluctuations. If work-related success or recognition diminishes, scam victims, may experience a decline in self-esteem, leading to a sense of worthlessness.
  • Neglecting Other Aspects of Life: Overprioritizing work can lead to neglecting other important areas of life, such as personal relationships, self-care, or hobbies. An unbalanced focus on work may hinder overall well-being and limit opportunities for fulfillment outside of the professional realm.
  • Fragile Self-Worth: If self-worth relies heavily on work-related accomplishments, it can become fragile and vulnerable to setbacks. This may perpetuate a cycle of constantly seeking external validation and feeling inadequate without ongoing professional success.

To promote healthier coping strategies, scam victims should consider seeking professional support, such as therapy or counseling, to process their emotions and address the trauma. Creating a balanced lifestyle that includes self-care, setting boundaries between work and personal life, and fostering social connections can also contribute to a more comprehensive healing journey. By acknowledging and addressing emotions in a supportive and therapeutic environment, victims can gradually work towards genuine healing and recovery from the scam’s emotional aftermath.

Supportive Strategies

Supportive strategies for scam victims include:

  • Gradual Exposure: Encouraging gradual exposure to social interactions can help scam victims regain confidence and rebuild trust over time. Starting with low-pressure social encounters and gradually increasing the level of engagement can support their journey toward reintegrating into social environments.
  • Support Groups: Joining a SCARS support & recovery group can help you stay connected to the needs of your recovery providing daily support and coaching from other scam victims under the guidance of the educators at SCARS. To learn more visit
  • Building Support Networks: Assisting scam victims in cultivating supportive networks of understanding individuals or support groups can provide a safe space for sharing experiences, gaining emotional support, and fostering connections with those who can empathize with their journey.
  • Therapy and Counseling: Seeking professional help, such as therapy or counseling, can provide scam victims with the necessary tools and support to address the emotional impact of the scam and gradually navigate social interactions. Therapists can help develop coping strategies, manage anxiety, and build social skills. To find trauma counseling or therapy visit
  • Self-Care and Emotional Regulation: Encouraging self-care practices and emotional regulation techniques can help scam victims manage anxiety and emotional distress related to social interactions. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation, self-reflection, and self-compassion can contribute to their overall well-being and confidence in social settings.

By striking a balance between work-related engagement and healthy social interactions, scam victims can gradually reintegrate into social environments, build supportive connections, and foster personal growth on their path to recovery.

Finding Healthier Coping Strategies

To promote healthy healing and well-being, it is important for traumatized individuals to explore alternative coping strategies alongside work.

  1. Seek Professional Support: Engage in support groups ( and therapy or counseling ( to address and process the trauma with the guidance of a trained professional who can provide appropriate support and strategies.
  2. Establish Boundaries: Set clear boundaries between work and personal life to ensure time for self-care, relaxation, and engaging in activities unrelated to work.
  3. Practice Self-Care: Dedicate time for self-care activities such as exercise, relaxation techniques, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones. These activities promote balance and help manage stress.
  4. Foster Social Connections: Cultivate a support network of trusted individuals who can offer emotional support and understanding. Engaging in meaningful social interactions can provide additional sources of comfort and healing.
  5. Embrace Emotional Processing: Allow oneself to feel and process the emotions associated with the trauma. This may involve journaling, creative expression, or engaging in activities that encourage emotional release and self-reflection.
  6. Gradual Exposure: Consider a gradual and guided approach to facing triggers and engaging with the trauma, with the support of a therapist. Gradual exposure can aid in desensitization and provide opportunities for healing.


While immersing oneself in work may initially provide temporary relief from the pain of trauma, it is crucial to recognize the potential long-term consequences and consider healthier coping strategies. By seeking professional support, establishing boundaries, practicing self-care, fostering social connections, and embracing emotional processing, individuals can embark on a more comprehensive healing journey that addresses the trauma holistically and promotes overall well-being.

Remember, you are not alone. There are many people who have been through trauma and have come out the other side. With help, you can heal from trauma and live a fulfilling life.



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.







This content and other material contained on the website, apps, newsletter, and products (“Content”), is general in nature and for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical, legal, or financial advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for licensed or regulated professional advice. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider, lawyer, financial, or tax professional with any questions you may have regarding the educational information contained herein. SCARS makes no guarantees about the efficacy of information described on or in SCARS’ Content. The information contained is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible situations or effects. SCARS does not recommend or endorse any specific professional or care provider, product, service, or other information that may be mentioned in SCARS’ websites, apps, and Content unless explicitly identified as such.

The disclaimers herein are provided on this page for ease of reference. These disclaimers supplement and are a part of SCARS’ website’s Terms of Use

Legal Notices: 

All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2023 Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (Registered D.B.A SCARS) All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide. Third-party copyrights acknowledge.

U.S. State of Florida Registration Nonprofit (Not for Profit) #N20000011978 [SCARS DBA Registered #G20000137918] – Learn more at

SCARS, SCARS|INTERNATIONAL, SCARS, SCARS|SUPPORT, SCARS, RSN, Romance Scams Now, SCARS|INTERNATION, SCARS|WORLDWIDE, SCARS|GLOBAL, SCARS, Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams, Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams, SCARS|ANYSCAM, Project Anyscam, Anyscam, SCARS|GOFCH, GOFCH, SCARS|CHINA, SCARS|CDN, SCARS|UK, SCARS|LATINOAMERICA, SCARS|MEMBER, SCARS|VOLUNTEER, SCARS Cybercriminal Data Network, Cobalt Alert, Scam Victims Support Group, SCARS ANGELS, SCARS RANGERS, SCARS MARSHALLS, SCARS PARTNERS, are all trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc., All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Contact the legal department for the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated by email at