I was so very depressed after learning I was a victim of being scammed. I just could not understand what was happening to me. How could this person use me like that and how could I have allowed this to happen. I have to share how I met him and why I could not understand. I was divorced 15 years ago, remained single trying to focus on raising my children, healing myself from a 10 year failed marriage. I was not ready to put myself out in the dating world, did not like who I was and did not want to make my children go through the process of bringing someone new into there lives. Divorce just does not effect the couple, it effects the children more so than a marriage full of resentment, arguing. They feel at least my parents are together. Anyway after getting them raised and on there own and me liking who I was finally, I decided to do the online dating thing. It wasn’t that I could not meet people or interact with them, but it was the new social media way of finding a potential companion/relationship. I did my research into online dating, the supposed safe way of meeting people.. I never heard of romance scammers and it didn’t even cross my mind they were out there. I signed up to a paid dating site, had my share of mutual responses both local and out of state men. I met this man who was widower looking to get back into dating after 3 years, we conversed on that site several times before he gave me his phone number and asked to speak with me over phone. Even this went on for about a month and then we met in person, had a brief relationship before he took a job in Malaysia.I checked out his contract with whom he was suppose to work for, checked out business and made sure it was the truth. He even said he understood if I didn’t want to continue with him being so far away and for a long period of time.. We kept our relationship online and by phone for over a year, never once did he ask me for money, never asked for anything but my time and attention, we even had video messaging. It wasn’t until about a month before I found out about the scam, he was due to come back to the states, told me he over stayed his work Visa and needed to stay longer work to come up with funds. I started to receive gift cards to help him make purchases and to ship to him so he could get the extra funds. I never thought I was doing something wrong until I was visited by a Postal Inspector telling me I was being used as a mule to purchase things and reship, that gift cards were stolen from other people. You can image my shock, my slap in the face. I confronted him immediately, I was outraged. I was being prepped all along, that my so called relationship with this man was a fake.
Anxiety immediately took over, I couldn’t think, sleep, eat or concentrate at home or work. My daughter found SOTH, where I immediately went to for help. As I’ve said I did not know there was such a thing as romance scams. I wanted answers, needed know why this happened to me. I eventually had to seek Mental Health therapy. That was my eye opener to depression and how the medical field and public really did not know how to treat my type of depression. I asked how can this be? How can the medical field not know that there are people out there suffering from devastation from romance scams. Why isn’t there any adequate help and resources out there? So my search began: I found a lot of subjects on credit card scams, scams on natural disaster relief programs, financial institution scam. But not one article on romance scams. Wow that said a lot in it’s self..
We go thru a lot of emotional changes after we have learned we’ve been scammed. It is best described as we suffer a loss much like divorce, death of a spouse or end to a long-term relationship. It is similar to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). The devastation of losing the person we thought loved us but betrayed us is overwhelming. We experience embarrassment, humiliation, our self esteem is crushed, we become angry and want revenge, we want answers to something that cannot be answered. To us we believed we were in a relationship, to them it’s just another job, we are just another person to help them in there crimes, we are not even considered a human being to them, that is why we cannot understand or find the answers. And then depression sets in to the fullest. We miss and crave the attention that our scammer gave us, the sweet words, the attention we so wanted and most of all the love we had. It is documented that 6.7% of the U.S. population suffers from some type of depression. These symptoms range from everyday struggles, the up’s and down’s of daily living to chronic mental health conditions such as Bipolar, Manic depressive and the list goes on. We all experience loneliness, hopelessness, helplessness, anxiety, sleep deprivation, lack of concentration and mental fatigue. With romance scam we reach all of these symptoms quickly in such a very short time. So that was why I was floored that our Mental Health professionals know so little of what we are going thru, why they have a hard time understanding what we are going thru. Most just want to give us medication as they do not know who to counsel us.
Most therapies tell us we need to confront what it is that is causing our pain, our depression. Find answers and begin our closure. It’s just not that simple for us as romance victims. We try to get by each day with the interaction, we try everyday to find ourselves again, we grieve, we cry and then we accept what has happened and we talk with people who share the same experience as we do.
Our healing begins by shutting out these people, by not letting them back in, we begin by educating and protecting ourselves from them, learn there language, learn who the scammers are online from the real ones. Help educate others about them. We cannot change who the social media site allow on there, money is there motivation and as long as they receive there fees they are not interested in what happens. We heal by knowing we are special people, we have large hearts, are caring people and never give up on that. We learn to like who we are again. We all have depression in our lives, some may require medication to assist us for a time and that’s okay. And we when we feel down, talk to someone in your group who understands. We all learn from every experience in life, some lessons are harder to learn from but in the end we can, we survive. We are the winners.