Thoughts About Boundaries

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

Boundaries & No Self Limits – A Leading Cause Of Scams

What Are Boundaries and Why Do YOU Need Them?

Boundaries are imaginary lines that separate us from each other. It separates your physical space, your feelings, needs, and responsibilities from others.

Your boundaries also tell other people how they can treat you – what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Without boundaries, people may take advantage of you because you haven’t set limits about how you expect to be treated.

You can think of a boundary as a property line!

When a boundary is crossed, you need to provide feedback saying it’s not okay. The boundary is worthless if you don’t enforce it by giving feedback and consequences. Some people will easily accept a boundary and others will continue to challenge and escalate it. So, if someone continued to violate your boundaries, you would need to address it with him/her. The specific consequences depend on the nature of the relationship and the history of the relationship.

Boundaries Are Important For Everyone

Boundaries are important in our lives because they help us to protect ourselves from harm and to maintain our sense of self. They can help us to:

  • Feel safe and secure: Boundaries can help us to feel safe and secure by defining what is and is not acceptable behavior for others. They can also help us to feel more in control of our lives by giving us the power to say no to things that we do not want to do.
  • Maintain our sense of self: Boundaries can help us to maintain our sense of self by defining what is important to us and what we are willing to do for others. They can also help us to protect our values and beliefs by setting limits on what we are willing to tolerate.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety: Boundaries can help us to reduce stress and anxiety by reducing the amount of demands that we make on ourselves. They can also help us to manage our emotions more effectively by giving us the space to process our feelings without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Improve our relationships: Boundaries can help us to improve our relationships by creating a more respectful and equitable dynamic. They can also help us to communicate our needs and expectations more effectively, which can lead to more satisfying relationships.

Here are some tips for setting boundaries in our lives:

  • Be clear about what you want and don’t want: The first step to setting boundaries is to be clear about what you want and don’t want. This means knowing your values and beliefs, and what you are willing to accept from others.
  • Communicate your boundaries to others: Once you know what your boundaries are, it is important to communicate them to others. This can be done through direct communication, or by setting clear expectations through your behavior.
  • Be assertive: When setting boundaries, it is important to be assertive. This means being able to stand up for yourself and your needs, without being aggressive or passive.
  • Be willing to say no: One of the most important aspects of setting boundaries is being willing to say no. This means being able to decline requests that you do not want to fulfill, without feeling guilty or obligated.
  • Be prepared to enforce your boundaries: Once you have set your boundaries, it is important to be prepared to enforce them. This means being willing to walk away from situations that violate your boundaries, or to set consequences for people who do not respect them.

Your Scam Happened (In Part) Because Of Boundaries

Remember, that part of the reason that the original scam happened was poor enforcement of your boundaries. You started talking with an unknown stranger on the phone, in a message, or online!

That original mistake we talk about was a boundary issue. Talking to strangers and trusting implicitly at the very beginning is a failure to establish or maintain a proper boundary for your own safety. Also when the scammer first said they loved you, that also should have been a boundary that triggered alarm bells. But by allowing boundaries to be crossed and not matter, you opened the door to the scammer.

Now is the time to lock down your boundaries to prevent this from ever happening again.

Boundaries & Your Recovery

Boundaries are important in every aspect of our lives but especially for recovering scam victims!

As a recovering scam victim, there are certain boundaries that you must put in place. As a part of our SCARS Steps Recovery Program we establish our recovery rules partly for your security, but also to help everyone re-establish their personal boundaries.

Boundaries are essential in providing guidelines that every victim should follow.

But almost always, some victims will allow their annoyance or anger to get the best of them when we suggest that their behavior is either high risk and is going to lead them back into another (or more than) scam. Or they get upset when we suggest that they are derailing their recovery! After all, who are we?

Our SCARS Boundaries In Our Recovery Program

Boundaries are absolutely essential for scam victims that are recovering from scams because they can help to protect them from further harm.

Scammers often prey on people who are vulnerable or who have been victimized in the past, and most scam victims are more vulnerable after a scam than before it. By setting boundaries, crime victims can help to protect themselves from being taken advantage of again.

Here are some ways that boundaries can help crime victims recover from scams:

  • They can help victims to feel safe and in control. After being scammed, victims may feel like they have lost control of their lives. Setting boundaries can help them to regain a sense of control by defining what is and is not acceptable behavior for others.
  • They can help victims to protect themselves from further harm. Scammers often use emotional manipulation to exploit victims. By setting boundaries, victims can protect themselves from being emotionally manipulated again.
  • They can help victims to heal from the experience. Being scammed can be a traumatic experience. Setting boundaries can help victims to start to heal by giving them the space they need to process their emotions and rebuild their trust in others.
  • Removing toxic people from your life. After a scam some family or friends may be negatively judgmental and even blame victims, it is important to establish boundaries for this kind of toxic relationship – including ending them if needed – to help allow the victim to more easily progress through their recovery. Those relationships can be recovered late if there is a need or want.

Here are some tips for setting boundaries for crime victims recovering from scams:

  • Be clear about what you want and don’t want. What are your limits? What are you willing to share with others? What are you not willing to do?
  • Communicate your boundaries to others. Let people know what you are comfortable with and what you are not comfortable with.
  • Be assertive. When someone violates your boundaries, be able to stand up for yourself and say no.
  • Be willing to walk away. If someone is not respecting your boundaries, be willing to walk away from the situation.
  • Accept responsibility if you violate other people’s boundaries too!

Setting boundaries can be difficult, especially after being scammed. However, it is an important step in the healing process. By setting boundaries, crime victims can help to protect themselves from further harm and start to rebuild their lives.

Unfortunately, many victims will not listen, they prefer to believe they are just fine and don’t need to listen to anyone. They learned their lesson and it will never happen again. Except, it just does not work this way. Cognitive biases, especially in traumatized crime victims convince them of all kinds of things that are just not true.

When someone willfully ignores proper boundaries – it is usually because they are caught up in their anger. Anger blinds people from common sense, ethics, and personal boundaries.

Every Recovery Program In Any Form Has Boundaries – Ours Is No Different.

We try to help scam victims to re-establish their own boundaries so that they will not be re-scammed or take a turn into the darkness. But some people are determined to jump off of the path. Sadly there is nothing we can do about that.

As we always say: we cannot save anyone. We are here to share a path. If our path does not work for someone, there is always counseling and therapy. If it does, then it is not because of us, it is because the person followed that path. This is the way.

Anger and denial are the two most destructive emotions for scam victims and the ones that tend to violate or ignore boundaries. The inability to moderate them will lead them away from proper help making the recovery that much more difficult. After all, trauma does not simply go away by itself.

However, there is an additional, very important piece of this puzzle.

We work hard to make our process and educational information to be “Trauma-Informed” – meaning to both better understand victim trauma and to help (as much as we can) to share that information.

Understanding Trauma Is A Life Skill. Why?

Because as science is discovering, a significant percentage of the population has been traumatized in ways we never would have imagined. Especially after the pandemic.

Remember when your parents told you not to watch certain TV or movies? They were right – you might enjoy them, but our primitive brains were not equipped to handle these and other traumatizing experiences. Scams, to a much greater degree, also traumatize those victims with low resiliency. A person by themself will have great difficulty properly evaluating their own trauma – that is because trauma hides behind a million other reactions and unless someone is trained to recognize them, they will write them off as other things.

It turns out that trauma accumulates, and without a solid understanding and ability to recognize trauma in yourself, it simply builds. It affects every aspect of our lives.

Trauma Counseling & Support

We wish that trauma counseling was available to everyone any time they needed it. In time, it will become AI (artificial intelligence) driven and become as available as old phone booths used to be, and then everyone would have access to it. But for now, you have to find one near you here: counseling.AgainstScams.org

The problem is that we humans are so damn stubborn!  Our biases prevent us from seeing what is so plain if we all just knew what to look for. Even if we had universal access to trauma counseling, most probably would not use it.

This Brings Us Back To Boundaries

Remember, boundaries protect and define us. We need to examine our boundaries and make sure they are where we want them to be, and then know what we will do when someone or something crosses them.

In the case of scam victims – one of those boundaries is complete abstinence from communicating with strangers for at least the first year or longer! As a scam victim, you were manipulated and you can be again. In simple fact, the trauma you just experienced makes you easier to manipulate the second time – remember, trauma accumulates and can increase vulnerability.

These are some of the most important boundaries you can have right now. Without them, you are wide open to all the terrible things that are out there! But also remember that very often, it is you that breaks down your own walls!

Also, recognize that you may have built unnecessary boundaries with family and friends. Your fear, shame, or guilt may be creating walls when they are not needed. Think about that too!

We Hope This Helps

Our goal is always to share knowledge that can help you recover from your experience and avoid future scams. But it is only useful if you can control your anger or denial and listen.

We hope you can, and that you can fully recover in the future.

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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