The impact of romance scams can be devastating for victims, leaving them in both financial and emotional ruin. While the road to recovery is unique for each victim, it can become particularly challenging for some, who become addicted to the harmful swindle. Such victims will continue to launch themselves into a series of online romance scams, further devastating their financial and emotional stability. Here’s what you need to know:
Romance Scams and Addiction:
After the reality of the romance scam has been realized and accepted by a victim, they not only go through withdrawal, but they also may experience trauma and grief. This can leave the victim with a mix of intense, heightened emotions like the following:
- Feeling disoriented, confused, shocked, and panicked.
- An initial anger towards contrary views, advice, or guidance from close friends, family, or professionals.
- A lack of confidence about the scam really being a scam, and questioning whether it could be a misunderstanding.
- Experiencing frenetic desire to latch onto another romantic savior after the scam ends.
Additionally, romance scams are gravely manipulating towards a victim. The intensity of the engagement engenders high levels of dopamine and emotional attachment, leaving the victim feeling deprived in the post-scam reality – even if they can recognize the actuality of the scam and the devastating mark it has left on their life. This withdrawal affects a victim’s resistance and vulnerability against future scams, urging them to jump back into another online relationship that feeds that addiction.
Addiction to romance scams is not related to someone being gullible, unintelligent, or showing a lack of critical thought. The scammers are highly malicious and exploitative, strategically triggering destructive levels of emotional dependence from their victims. For example, some scammers methodically provoke sleep deprivation on their targets. As most scammers stage themselves as professionals abroad in different time zones, they lure their target to stay up all night communicating with them. Some victims have stated feeling “hypnotized” by these tactics, feeling that their judgement and clarity was severely hindered.
Post Scam Recovery:
If a victim of a romance scam is able to maintain their recovery for a year, they are likely to never engage in a romance scam again. For any victim who has suffered a romance scam, it is critical that they consider engaging in professional scam victim support and recovery programs to help facilitate a successful, long term post-scam recovery process.