Monday, June 4, 2012

Steps To Healing From A Scam

Here is an article written for us by a guest writer. it is very informative and may give you a new perspective on the whole experience of being scammed and what the writer did to help the healing process.

Steps to Healing from a Scam
by Soraya Grant
Give Yourself Time, Energy, and Space to Process What Happened to You
Scammers engage in deliberately planned patterns of psychological manipulation. Many of the tactics they use are identical or very similar to those used by abusers in domestic violence situations, cult leaders, and unscrupulous multi-level marketing schemes. You may have lost, or come very close to losing a lot of money or find your finances in disarray because you bought clothes, electronics, furniture, or other items for what you thought was your new life with someone wonderful. None of this is something a person can just recover from instantly. Accept that for a time, you will dwell on the scam. The person you believed you were talking to either shared your religious and political beliefs or the two of you engaged in an enjoyable or enlightening banter on these subjects. The two of you had the same or perfectly compatible career, family, and financial goals, and spent a great deal of time discussing these issues. You were likely charmed by all the "little things" the two of you had in common. When you've just spent weeks or months discussing everything with someone, everything is naturally going to remind you of that person. You may find yourself clinging to tiny bits of the scam as though they reflected reality, even though you know they do not. Some scam victims become attached to videos or photos the scammer used. My own scam was a copycat of the Nigerian scam, run by one or more Americans who tossed in a few real details of the primary, possibly only, scammer's life to throw off anyone who researched them, and I found myself unable to let go of the town I had been made to believe would soon be my home. This period of intense focus on the scam will be incredibly painful while it lasts, but you are not doomed to a life sitting alone repeatedly watching the movie the two of you talked about or gazing at stolen photos or web pages of places you'll never see. Eventually, little gaps will begin to form. My first gap was a criminology book I purchased on a trip to a mall with some people who knew nothing of the scam. I spent about ten minutes picking it out and several hours reading it and pondering the cases it discussed instead of the scam. These gaps will slowly stretch, becoming larger and larger as you heal, until the scam is nothing more than a tiny thread at the back of your mind.
Take Back Some of the Little Things You Gave Up to Please the Person You Thought You Knew
Did you used to love to tend your flower garden, but gave that up to spend time online talking to the scammer? Buy new plants or seeds if you can afford it, and if your finances are depleted, organize your gardening tools or shed or spend some time online learning about the latest trends or techniques for the type of gardening you enjoy. If you love to read, but never got to finish many books due to waiting for the scammer to IM you or log into chat, buy or check out something new for yourself. Have a video, movie or television show marathon featuring that celebrity crush you always avoided mentioning so the person you thought you were in a relationship with wouldn't get jealous. Listen to music you gave up because it was part of a painful story the scammer told, or an artist they claimed not to like. The scammer who victimized me played on my sympathy by insisting that he broke down crying because the song "Drops of Jupiter" by Train was "his song" with his wife who died. While the ringleader or sole copycat scammer did indeed have a wife who died, I have no idea if that was one more detail of his deceased wife's life he was heartless enough to use in an internet romance scam, or if that was an invented detail he or they stole from some former victim...and it doesn't really matter. What does matter is that Train is my favorite band, I've loved that song since it first came out, and I stopped listening to it so I wouldn't ever slip and tell "my boyfriend" that I had it playing in the background. That song has never sounded better than it did the first time I listened to it just because it was a song I liked.
Get Rid of Everything You Added to Your Life for the Person You Thought You Knew
Scammers craft the characters they play into the ideal partner for each victim, but they also manipulate people into making major plans they can use as an excuse to ask for money. Planning to marry or move in together as soon as he gets back from his business trip to Nigeria is a common ploy west African scammers use to set up the "I'm stuck in the country and need your money to get out" scene. If you experienced this, you may have started picking out furniture, looking at houses, or putting money away for a down payment. The American scammer who manipulated me planned a special first date and vacation for the two of us that would require him to travel a great distance, then complained incessantly about being broke until I offered to send him the money for his plane ticket and pay for the hotel rooms. I closed the account I set up for this purpose. Getting rid of realtor's cards, furniture catalogs, and anything else you obtained in preparation for your life together with this person will probably feel just as freeing. Another common scammer tactic is applying subtle pressure to see what little things they can get you to agree to do. You believe you are making compromises for the sake of a relationship, or doing something special to please your man or woman, but the scammer is really giving you a little test to see if you will do what they want. The American scammer had me convinced I should attend a school whose philosophy strongly contradicts my own beliefs, purchasing clothing items in colors and styles I don't care to wear, and changing my grooming and beauty routine habits to fit his stated tastes. I even took out an expensive cell phone plan in order to communicate with him. The process of informing that school I would not be attending, finding a place suited to me, donating those clothes, and getting rid of that phone was the process that finally ended the lasting pain.
Embrace Those Things That Have Always Been True to You Once Again
Sorting out what was you and what you took into your life because of the scam can be a complicated process. Mixed in with all those grand life changing plans and little tests the scammer gave you is a lot of your own thoughts, feelings, tastes, and interests that have been reflected back to you as belonging to the person you thought you knew. It's one of the primary methods they use to make you think the two of you have a lot in common or are compatible. Take your time with this, and be honest with yourself. The American scammer had an "ordinary guy" persona with me. He liked the simple life, in a small home with no designer or name brand labels or need to have jewelry or the latest gadgets. . He even sang me a song he claimed to have written years ago about being "an ordinary guy." Being more Sears and Applebee than Dior and country club myself, I embraced this enthusiastically and was inspired by "my man" to simplify even more. The day I discovered the scam, I first found a marriage announcement in his local paper for the man I thought was my soon to be live-in boyfriend and possible fiance and another woman. Not realizing it was a scam, I told someone else who claimed to be just his friend in the chatroom where we met that this man and I had been dating, but he demanded I keep it a secret. I then went on to tearfully tell the person the relationship was over because he had been cheating on me and had married the other woman. His "other friend" and I discovered it was a scam together, as we traded stories detail by detail, and realized that he had been pretending to carry on nearly identical relationships with both of us, including wanting us to arrange special meetings and dates that required him to travel. The only major difference was...the man she believed she'd been dating had a very different background, a slightly different appearance, and lived a very different lifestyle than the man I believed I had been dating. Her "boyfriend" had already bought her diamonds, lived in a huge house, and had just purchased the latest model smartphone. My initial urge was to start looking for five jobs I could hold at once, so that I could afford to live in a manner that was the exact opposite of the life we discussed, even if I would have to hold my nose to swallow that fancy food and own one outfit because it cost more than a whole wardrobe of clothes I actually wanted. But that would only be an act of cruelty to myself. That person who would rather have a DQ Blizzard than the Golden Oppulence Sundae at Serendipity 3 wasn't the scammer or the person the scammer was pretending to be...that was...and still
The above article was based on the path to healing taken by a romance scam survivor. It is not a therapy plan, nor is it recommend or endorsed by a mental health professional.


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