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Re: Closure. When will this all end? NEW! Coping Strategies!

Unread postby SlapHappy » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:00 am

I would first like to thank all of the survivors that added their input into this topic to help others. You all posted wonderfully insightful words here, and they were just the kind of thing that I was hoping for. This was not intended to just be a staff essay, but an open topic discussion. There is no cookie cutter one size fits all way for everyone to get their minds to finally reach "closure." Everyone is different. Thank you all for adding your own experiences here. This topic has many thousands of views now, and I know that there are many members here and also many unknown readers out there who have been helped by your words.

This website was created to make survivors out of victims. It is the members' website. We highly encourage survivors to post on your site to new members that arrive, are shocked, scared, needing a helping hand or kind words to make them know that there is life after a scam, and that all of us here are willing to talk and help them along the way to becoming a survivor themselves. You may not realize how much just a few words can mean to someone, but it really does help them.

I also thank you for your kind and glowing reviews of my opening post here. Part of your thanks to me for writing this in the first place should go to all of you that I have helped along the way on this website. You have all taught me something about victim support, and I have found a great deal of joy in watching you all recover and become survivors. The big push that made me put my thoughts into a topic here came from that anonymous blackmailed survivor that I talked to for hours in the chatroom and on the forum as well, over the course of several days or was it weeks? All I remember about the time involved was that it was just way too long. To be honest, I was a bit frustrated that my words and the other staff and members' words just did not seem to get through to this worried guy. The scammer disappeared within a day or two. He didn't seem to be able to take the first step, let the scam go, and to move forward with his own life. He was letting the scammer run his life when he was safe, the scam was long over. "Well, what if the scammer did this? Could he do that now? Are you sure? How do I know what you are saying is right? about if he gets mad?? And how do I find closure?!! I want closure!" After I wrote this topic, I sent him there to read it.
When he came back, he said, "You know what? I don't forgive myself for getting myself in a situation to be scammed. I'll work on that forgiveness."
All the worried questions stopped after that, and he moved on back to real life.
He was changed after he saw that one word, as all victims change after their scam.

Personal changes after a scam vary with everyone. Most are definitely more educated about scammers and most become stronger persons. I have heard a few members say that they now have a "new normal." I want to move this topic in that direction now.
But this time for this chapter of recovery, there will be no essay from me. We want to hear from you. I have questions that if they get answered by many of you willing members, I am sure that many suffering people trying to become survivors themselves can be helped by you.

The subject of this new chapter will be: Coping In The New Normal - ScamSurvivors' Strategies.

Here are some starting questions for you to post about:

Many of you survivors have experienced "The Empty Hole, " the term I use for a common occurance after the scam is stopped. The scammer no longer takes up all of your time, you have come here and posted the details and feel pretty good about yourself for warning others. Things settle a bit at home, then you get your first big
depression and feel alone. You miss the feelings and images, even if you know now they were caused by a scammer. You might start blaming yourself again. There may be more depressions cycling in every once in awhile for quite some time.
Question: How do you get out of the depression and back to a more positive recovery attitude and feeling?

Question: What helps you to reconnect to your real self, and find and live your "new normal?"

Question: Do any of the things that you did to cope in the beginning change over time?
What, How and in what ways?

Question: Do you possess a secret weapon of recovery now, one that always works for you to keep you moving forward? Please share.

Last question that a member asked me to include in this topic:
How has this website helped you to put your life back together in order to move on?

Now, get writing and posting your answers here. :) It will be fun for you, I promise. :D
If anyone asks you for money on the Internet they are always a scammer, 100% of the time.
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Re: Closure. When will this all end? NEW! Coping Strategies!

Unread postby Ruffled Feathers » Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:33 am

Hi SlapHappy -

You did it again, you said all the right things, you asked the hard questions and as always you make everyone feel important. I am so proud to know you. You are an inspiration to all the members on this site and all the newcomers as they come here asking for help and guidance through their scam --- even if you do yell at us, we know you are beside us and behind us, pushing, pulling and dragging us through to our new normals. There can never be enough thank you's for what you do to make every one comfortable in themselves once again and find closure. You are the best - even when we make you crazy with our questions or just not getting "it".

Seems to me, I have had you yell at me more than once, including words in Latin --- hopefully they were not bad words - never did look them up on Google translates ..... but I knew you were pushing me, no dragging me, through a rough spot on the road to recovery.

I thank you as always, as do many others on this site.

Thanks SH,
A scammer is only as good as the fear he creates.
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Split from closure topic.

Unread postby Holly Louis » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:37 pm

Hi there, I am going to have a go at answering some of your questions Slappy.
I met my scammer on facebook 3 weeks after a relationship break down, he was an opportunist who just contacted me at the right time, in reality if I had not been emotionally down at the time I would never have replied to his message. I talked to him for four and a half months before cutting contact with him. It has been 16 months now and at first it was very hard, talking to others in the chatroom at the time helped a lot at first, then after a while I decided that seeing that I was a not a new victim and that I was not baiting that maybe I shouldnt go to the chatroom as much as I didnt want to take up the moderators valuable time. This is when I fell into a black hole, since the scam I had a lot of trouble sleeping although not so much in the past few months. I lost confidence in myself and kept having panic attacks, especially when I had to spend any money. How did I get through it all?, Natural therapies helped me a lot I learnt to meditate, dabbled with yoga classes and in the end started running every morning before work and still do. I guess I have my scammer to thank for my improved fitness.Every one is different though you need to find what works for you. Reading other peoples stories helped me a lot too, it really does help to know that you are not alone and I have also helped a few other people who were recently scammed, in doing so have met some wonderful people.
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Re: Closure. When will this all end? NEW! Coping Strategies!

Unread postby Big Al » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:35 pm

Dear Holly,
We bait to gain information on the scammers to better inform & help victims. The site itself is dedicated to helping anyone who needs or wants it. You should feel neither obligated to be here nor excluded from using this site to help yourself get over this bad time in your life.

We are here for you and anyone who needs or wants help.
"Look for the lies."
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The information you supply can help others from becoming Victims.
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Re: Closure. When will this all end? NEW! Coping Strategies!

Unread postby Tomi » Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:15 pm

Hello Holly Louis! Big Al is right. You are so welcome here. Me, it has been almost a year now & I have already moved on but I still stay here & visit the ChatRoom from time to time, either just to talk to some old members or to new victims. Consider this site as your home. Feel free also to post your comments to new vitims' stories and that will be greatly appreciated. Keep in touch! We love to hear from you. :)
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Re: Closure. When will this all end? NEW! Coping Strategies!

Unread postby Holly Louis » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:23 am

Hi again, Thank you for your replies to my post Big Al and Tommi. To anyone who is new here and struggling at the moment I should have put in my first post this is what did happen and how I coped with it, not the way that I am feeling now, I have healed, and have moved on a lot, I have also found that I am a lot stronger than I was before it all started, I have even been promoted at work since then. It is hard at first but you do recover some quicker than others, just remember that it isnt a race and I found the biggest hurdle was forgiving myself. Also I have nothing against baiting I just wasnt ready at that time, I think it is a great way of keeping them busy and even if you can save just one person you have done a great job. Thanks again HL
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Re: Closure. When will this all end? NEW! Coping Strategies!

Unread postby Big Al » Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:57 pm

Glad you are doing well Holly. Congrats on the promotion. I know you weren't slamming us for baiting. Sorry if my post sounded critical of your position. Wasn't meant to be.
"Look for the lies."
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The information you supply can help others from becoming Victims.
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Re: Closure. When will this all end? NEW! Coping Strategies!

Unread postby Holly Louis » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:15 am

Thanks Big Al, Quite a while ago now I did set up a fake facebook page Just out of curiosity really to see how many scammers were on facebook, and within two and a half weeks I got a message from an american engineer, lol who was a widow his wife died in a bus accident and he was left to bring up his young son alone, he liked football and loved Michael Jackson and romance novel, but facebook shut the account down as I didnt have a fake phone number.
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Re: Closure. When will this all end? NEW! Coping Strategies!

Unread postby duckhunter » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:36 pm

This is the most enlightened/enlightening thread I have ever had the opportunity to read in the nearly 5 years I have been a member of the scam survivor/support/activism community. You nailed it Slappy, in the depth of your understanding and compassion. Wow.

In particular, this paragraph hits home:

Many of you survivors have experienced "The Empty Hole, " the term I use for a common occurance after the scam is stopped. The scammer no longer takes up all of your time, you have come here and posted the details and feel pretty good about yourself for warning others. Things settle a bit at home, then you get your first big depression and feel alone. You miss the feelings and images, even if you know now they were caused by a scammer.

I remember how easy it was to drop my scammer, but shortly thereafter I realized that he had drawn me away from my real life to such an extent that there was a huge hole where he used to be. Had it not been for the support of this community (different site, but many of the same people) I might have fallen apart. One of the things that helped me through was the humor associated with scammers that was shared with me ... which is why I whole-heartedly suggest that survivors listen to the podcasts -- viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1370 -- and learn that scammers do not have the power we were led to believe they did, when faced with this crazy group.

Another effect of scam survivorhood was the opportunity to become acquainted -- and in some cases, close friends with -- other survivors around the world. Learning that we all hurt, feel and laugh in the same language is an education that few people have the good fortune to be offered. For that and many other things, I thank my scammer.

Off the top of my head, here are a few more reasons not to regret being scammed:

    He gave me the opportunity to make a decision about who and what I choose to be in light of what he had done

    He taught me that I am indestructible. I had just been through a lot of crap in my life. Didn't think I could take one more thing ... but surprise!! I was wrong. :D

    I became aware of the lengths I would go to help a person in need. Compassion and empathy are what bring people together and make the world a better place. Those who have none would probably call it foolishness. We know better.

    I no longer look to others to validate me. I don't feel lonely or incomplete without a significant other. The propaganda I was fed in my youth, that there might be something wrong with me if I cannot 'get a man' has become old and useless (this one took a little while lol).

    I am far less judgmental ... have come to believe that what we think of as 'evil' might just be opportunities to grow that could not happen otherwise. Without dark we would not know light, were it not for cold we could not know when we are warm.

    It's easy to feel that the scammer dangled false love before us and left us empty, but what really happened was that the scammer showed us how much love we are capable of sharing. Sure, he didn't deserve it, but some fortunate person down the road might get a chance to experience what you now know you have to offer.

The people who support scam victims and work day in day out to mitigate the devastation caused by scam are among the highest principled people I have ever had the honor to meet. This experience has taught me the greatest lesson of all ... it doesn't matter what your title is, how much money you have, or who you know. In the end we can ask ourselves, what have I done to make this world a better place? Thanks to my scammer I have had the honor to become acquainted with a community of people who can answer that question with humility and great warmth of spirit ... and know they are here for a great purpose.

If I could go back and choose whether to be scammed or not, I would have to answer a great big "hell ya!" ... mugu may be a messed up criminal who undoubtedly spent my money in the first week and was broke the next ...but I'll have the collateral benefits of the experience for the rest of my life.

I win.
"It is good to see what is beautiful, but you must also observe the ugly things ... you must be awake to everything ... you must be exposed to things which you don't quite understand, for the more you ponder over these matters which may be difficult for you, the greater will be your capacity to live richly." Krishnamurti.
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The phases of a scammed victim

Unread postby Solidsnake » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:58 am

I have been trying my best to get in touch with reality, and so far its been a tough ride. Its almost now 10 days since my life-changing nightmare and so far I am just trying ways to find inner peace - sort of a 'reset' button within myself. I decided to post this topic under closure, since I believe this lays out a plan of where you stand in the struggle to attain closure. {If the moderators feel this belongs to a different thread, please tell me and I'll post it as a different thread or please feel free to move it}

I haven't reached closure yet. It feels more like a mirage, appearing now and then; whenever I try to reach it, it just goes further away. I think time is the best remedy to shorten this distance.

Having studied (or still studying) psychology, the topic I am writing now deals with the phases a person goes through when hit with grief or some kind of psychological trauma. I am writing this in retrospect and prospect, sharing what I have learnt and how to pass from phase to phase. In fact, you might realize that the same phases occur in almost every bad life-experience whether that be losing a job or an end of a terrible relationship or hearing bad news. They are namely:

1. Denial and Isolation
2. Anger
3. Bargaining (and Intellectualization)
4. Depression
5. Acceptance.

The important point to note is that these phases are not sequential and are not constant. We keep shifting to and fro among these various phases till we reach the stage of Acceptance. Closure, in its truest sense is nothing but 'Acceptance'. That is the phase where you stop going back to the previous phases i.e. having a relapse. Let me share of what I went through, and it makes a lot of sense to me now when I think what I have been doing subconsciously. I will also share on how I am dealing with each stage.

After the scam, I immediately went into 'Denial'. I refused to accept reality, and just tried to shut myself from the world. Unfortunately, denial didn't last long (its kind of protective since you are blocking reality) and then started the whole ordeal. Isolation became a norm, and for the first few days I didn't want to talk to anyone. I tried to break this by coming to this forum and talking to a few people. It really helped me. I started writing and it also somehow softened the internal wounds.

Anger was next for me. I smashed my bedroom's wall a couple of times, and pounded my head on the table, wishing a magical way to do something about the scam. The fact that I can't do anything about that son of a b1tch just made it worse. But I realize now it wasn't the scammer that I was really angry at. Its me that I am trying to fight against. I found out that to break the anger, the best thing was to go out for a walk. In fact, I started jogging while listening to music; mostly metal to channel my anger somehow. Classical music did relax me, but it could not hold the internal fury. In fact, at times I just ran with my max speed, and at times I was just blabbing to myself (naturally, the fellow joggers were kinda amused :lol: ) But, trust me, it did help. I was shouting all kinds of stuff to myself like "I have to forgive myself" or "I won't give up" or "This thing can't ruin my life" or "I have to get up" and so on, whatever motivated me, I just said it out loud. In fact, when I return home from my jogging sessions, I feel relaxed, and can finally stop thinking about it.

Bargaining and Intellectualization. This is a phase that you try to find other ways to meet your ends. For example, a cancer patient starts learning more about his disorder so as to block the underlying emotion of fear or regret. This is exactly what I have been going through quite recently. Trying to bargain. I started reading so much on scammers and their works, that one time I went into chatroullete to catch a few bastards. It was only after I talked to one of the moderators that he told me its a really bad idea to do anything now; that healing comes first. And he is absolutely right. The world of scamming is huge, and its a never-ending loop. Once you try to learn about a few of the ways, you will just keep going for more, and this will actually hurt your performance. I realized that the day I did some scamming research, my concentration for my studies took a plummet. Besides, it was spending too much time on things I have no control on, and I was stuck in this phase until a few days back. That's the reason I suggest not to follow in my footsteps i.e don't go into reading into the world of scammers. Of course, you should educate yourself, and I think all of the victims, after being scammed, are naturally made aware of the potential dangers lurking online.

Other aspects of 'Bargaining' are closing the blind loops of the 'what-if' scenarios. In other words, I've been considering them and looking at what will happen or how will I react or how will it affect me. For some of them when I started thinking deeply, it kinda lifted some fears. For others, it actually worsened my fears. Its really hard to block these scenarios, and the one that I am having the most trouble with is "What if the scammer comes back some day later in my life when, lets say, I am a famous or a known person". I have tried to comfort myself that as long as I make myself unreachable, this won't happen. But again, if I am known, some how people can get to you. After all, it doesn't take long on the internet to search about someone. I think this is the phase that I am currently stuck in.

Depression. This is the phase where you just lose all sight of the world. Its not about a bad or a very negative mood. The problem is not having a mood at all. That is depression; you feel no pleasure in anything of what so ever. I've been moving through this phase quite frequently. I think, my situation is too acute to really talk about the ways to fight it, but nevertheless, I found some ways to counter it. This phase usually heals with time, and I think its the best remedy for it. Whenever I feel low, I just stop studying since it makes it worse. While depressed, staring at a page just makes your mind go into a world of melancholy. Instead, I go and start doing some household stuff, or play with my siblings or just watch some nice movie. I don't even come to the site since it might then force me to go into bargaining i.e. start reading up on scammers. I was so glad to feel some kind of emotion after watching a good movie. For instance after one movie, I really liked the actress, and I never thought I could like a girl again 8-) .

Viewing the world in its entirety as evil, I think, is quite natural to a victim. I saw so much filth in the world while scanning these forums. It just made me more depressed and hateful of it. But then, when I pondered over it, a thought came to my mind that made me instantly rejoice. The very answer that I was looking for was right there in front of me. This site! Strangers, having no gain of whatsoever, miles away and irrespective of country/culture/religion/ethnicity, are more than willing to lend you a hand. More then willing to listen and try to help you out here. This site just proves that "there is still good in this world, and its worth fighting for" (ain't that right, Samwise Gamgee? :P ).

I've also turned to religion and faith to alleviate my mood and get sense of life. It has some hidden powers that I did not knoww before. Somehow, it brings a relief thinking that a higher authority will protect you from all harms - that He will shield you from all the troubles you are having. Whatever your faith is, having a spiritual source to rely and cry to really helps. I've heard other people have tried techniques like yoga or relaxation so that can help as well.

Acceptance or as Slaphappy rightly said, Closure :( . Sigh. Still not there yet, but I am trying. I have put all my efforts into it and I remind myself every day to somehow reach it. I even wrote some 'notes to self' on my wall, things like "Forgive yourself" or "Don't give up hope". They are good in a way that they give me motivation. Bad, because they remind me again of the past. That's the reason I think after a few more days, I will take them down, and let forgetting run its course. Once I reach closure, I will definitely write about it here.

I just realized that by writing this topic, I was trying to fight my inner depression. It does feel like bargaining or Intellectualization, but its all part of a process. A constant fight with your inner self. Its really hard to get the things back to how they were before. In fact, it seems quite impossible because your view of the world has suddenly changed. Somehow you feel unprotected even while you are miles away. But again, life is a lesson, and every fall is supposed to make you stronger. I hope at the end of the tunnel, I come out as a changed and stronger man. A joyful person more accepting of life than ever.

I hope that this topic was enlightening, and somehow it helps you to move forward in search of serenity. If any of you can somehow relate to these phases and share your experience of moving out of them, I'll be glad to hear it.
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