A Qualitative Inquiry of Holocaust Survivors in the Face of Financial Exploitation

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Abstract

Objective: Financial exploitation of older adults results in devastating emotional, health, and economic consequences for victims, their families, and society at large. Examining reactions of Holocaust survivors to financial exploitation can provide informative insights into the effects of re-traumatization in highly traumatized older adults. This study examined the personal experiences and meaning that Holocaust survivors attribute to being victims of financial exploitation, thereby assessing an underexplored issue: the effects of financial exploitation on previously traumatized older adults. Method: Fifteen Israeli Holocaust survivors (10 females; 5 males) aged 79–92 (M = 84.66), participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed according to the phenomenological approach. Results: Analysis yielded four themes. Negative emotional reactions toward financial exploitation included feelings of anger, hurt, shock, and helplessness. Coping mechanisms included adaptive (i.e. acting for the benefit of the self and offspring, helping others, alertness, and caution), and maladaptive (i.e. self-blame and rationalization) mechanisms. Positive life motto relates to participants perceiving themselves as vital and optimistic, grateful, helping the weak, and content with little. Protective and risk factors included family and community protection (versus living alone without resources), education (versus lack of), and taking preventive measures. Conclusions: This study adds to the literature on the experience of revictimization among previously traumatized older adults, Holocaust survivors exposed to financial exploitation, by highlighting adaptive and maladaptive coping mechanisms alongside positive mottos in life, and victims’ perceptions of risk and protective factors. Overall, findings indicate that the participants were characterized by both resilience and vulnerability in the face of financial exploitation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Keywords

  • Financial exploitation
  • Holocaust survivors
  • coping mechanisms
  • resilience
  • risk and protective factors

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