Victims of sexual assault by fraud often think all is lost and they’ll never be able to trust again. Not only were they harmed by a scammer, but the emotional supports they counted on caused them further pain.
Socrates pointed out the character-undermining quality of “sex by persuasion,” which was his term for rape by fraud. He remarked that violent rapists are obvious villains, but people who defraud for sex gouge the very character of the victim. And here’s why….
In order for us to walk comfortably through the world, we need an element of trust. We must feel that the society around us means us no harm and we take comfort from the concept that we can protect ourselves if that changes. If we did not feel this confidence, we could not venture out the door and into the world.
Traumatic events destroy our trust. When we’ve been hurt by an external villain, we can re-secure ourselves by moving to a location where we consider people “safe” to be with. Unless our circumstance requires us to remain in danger, we can escape and ultimately feel safe again.
What is different about harm by fraud?
Being defrauded calls for manipulation of our defenses. We become culpable in our own harm. Fraud surreptitiously causes us to take the very actions that undermine us. And the person we can no longer trust becomes ourselves.
Fraud demolishes our personal sense of being capable of self protection and preservation. The feeling that we can’t protect our own inviolate self undermines us at our very core.
How do we regain our own self-trust?
First off, we have to have the will to do so. If we only see our life as an unsafe place, we’ll throw ourselves into bed, pull the covers over our head, and curl up into a fetal position. We’ll remain withdrawn from society because we can’t trust that we’ll be safe in its midst.
In order to begin to muster the will to trust ourselves again, we need to create events in our life that make us feel happy, or at least empowered.
Disengage from folks who blame you
The blame for fraud lies with the offender, not with the victim. Anyone can be fooled if the perpetrator is a good liar. Don’t keep people in your support group who try to shame you into empowerment. Shame and fear is exactly what you’re trying to release from.
Being a trusting person is a noble character trait. You learned a lesson; however, that your trust can be undeserved. Don’t confuse your need to be more circumspect in the future with blame for having been ripped off. And don’t tolerate anyone else doing so either.
Disengage from folks who tell you to “just get over it.” “Move on.” “Don’t let this affect you.”
You are not “letting” it affect you. It’s simply affecting you. That statement is a perfect example of victim shaming. They have no compassion and don’t see how vulnerable you’ve been made to feel. Ignorance is bliss. They were never harmed the way you were.
Become your best friend
Feed yourself healthy food. Force yourself to exercise. Insist on keeping a sleep routine that provides you with adequate healing rest but does not allow you to confine yourself in your bedroom. You have to learn to trust yourself again. You have to do what you know is best for yourself.
If you can, find a therapist…. one that deals with PTSD and understands the horrors of sociopathic relationships. If you are unable to afford private help, seek care through support groups and the low cost/no cost mental health clinics at major hospitals.
Force yourself back into the world
Do things you love. Remind yourself of the value in your life. Plan moments of enjoyment with friends, family or alone, taking in music, artwork, sports or whatever makes you happy.
There is nothing quicker or better at re-building self esteem than helping someone else! Doing so can not only empower you, it can put you into the company of like minded people who care about others, a place where you can feel safe.