(Last Updated On: January 27, 2024)

SCARS Actionable Steps for Scam Victims to Create Resilience After a Scam and Successfully Recover

Scam Victim Recovery Psychology

Authors:
•  Vianey Gonzalez B.Sc(Psych) – Psychologist, Certified Deception Professional, Psychology Advisory Panel & Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Based, in part, on the work of Raphael Rose, Psychologist

About this Article

The SCARS model emphasizes the importance of journaling as a foundational step for scam victims on their journey to recovery.

Before delving into actionable steps, victims are encouraged to express emotions, reflect on experiences, and process trauma through writing. The journal becomes a tool for tracking progress, setting realistic goals, and providing a cathartic release for overwhelming emotions. The empowerment derived from documenting one’s narrative fosters resilience, strength, and self-awareness.

Actionable steps, outlined by SCARS, guide individuals in rebuilding resilience and processing grief after a traumatic event. These steps empower victims, monitor progress, facilitate behavioral change, and encourage the development of coping mechanisms. By breaking down the recovery process into manageable actions, SCARS promotes accountability, reflection, and the acquisition of essential skills, ultimately contributing to long-term well-being.

SCARS Scam Victim Support & Recovery Program

SCARS Scam Victims’ Actionable Steps to Improve Their Chance at Rebuilding Resilience and a Successful Recovery

Hold on One Minute!

Yes, we know you are ready to jump right in and start doing stuff! But hold on!

There is something you MUST do before you begin with all the actionable steps. You MUST start a journal.

Journaling is vital to a scam victim’s journey of recovery for several reasons:

  1. Emotional Expression: Writing in a journal provides a safe and private space for scam victims to express their emotions. It allows them to release pent-up feelings, share their thoughts, and articulate the impact of the scam on their lives.
  2. Self-Reflection: Journaling encourages self-reflection, enabling scam victims to explore their experiences, reactions, and coping mechanisms. It provides an opportunity to gain insights into their emotional responses and thought patterns, contributing to greater self-awareness.
  3. Processing Trauma: Scams can be traumatic experiences, and journaling serves as a tool for processing and making sense of the trauma. Victims can revisit their feelings, experiences, and the events surrounding the scam, gradually integrating the experience into their narrative.
  4. Tracking Progress: Journaling allows scam victims to track their progress over time. By documenting their emotional states, challenges, and achievements, individuals can observe positive changes, identify patterns, and celebrate milestones in their recovery journey.
  5. Setting Goals: Scam victims can use journaling to set realistic goals for their recovery. Whether it’s rebuilding trust, improving financial literacy, or enhancing emotional well-being, journaling provides a platform to outline objectives and track the steps taken toward achieving them.
  6. Cathartic Release: Writing about the impact of the scam can be cathartic. It provides a release for overwhelming emotions, reducing the emotional burden that scam victims may carry. This cathartic process contributes to a sense of relief and emotional well-being.
  7. Empowerment: Journaling is an empowering activity that allows scam victims to reclaim control over their narratives. By documenting their experiences, victims become the authors of their stories, emphasizing their resilience, strength, and capacity for growth.
  8. Identifying Patterns: Through consistent journaling, scam victims can identify patterns in their emotions, behaviors, and triggers. Recognizing these patterns enables individuals to develop effective coping strategies and make informed decisions in their recovery process.
  9. Communication: Journaling can serve as a form of self-communication. Scam victims can address themselves with kindness, encouragement, and understanding. This self-communication fosters self-compassion and a positive internal dialogue.
  10. Building a Support System: Journaling can be a tool for reaching out to others. Scam victims may choose to share their written reflections with trusted friends, family, or support groups, fostering understanding and empathy among their support system.
  11. Documentation for Legal Purposes: In some cases, scam victims may find it useful to document details related to the scam for legal purposes. Journaling can serve as a contemporaneous record, capturing important information that may be relevant in legal proceedings.
  12. And, but Not Least: Keeping Track of how well you are doing with all of those Actionable Steps to come below!

In essence, journaling provides scam victims with a flexible and personal medium to navigate the complexities of their recovery journey. It offers a means of expression, reflection, and empowerment, contributing significantly to emotional healing and growth.

Why are SCARS Actionable Steps Important?

The SCARS Model of Actionable Steps is crucial for several reasons when it comes to rebuilding resilience, processing grief, and moving forward after a traumatic event:

  1. Empowerment: Actionable steps empower individuals by providing them with a sense of control and agency over their situation. Taking concrete actions allows individuals to actively contribute to their own healing and growth, fostering a sense of empowerment and self-efficacy.
  2. Progress Monitoring: Breaking down the process into actionable steps allows individuals to monitor their progress. It provides tangible markers of achievement, helping them recognize and celebrate small victories along the way. This progress can be motivating and affirming.
  3. Behavioral Change: Rebuilding resilience often involves changes in behavior, habits, and perspectives. Actionable steps provide a structured approach to behavioral change, making it more manageable and increasing the likelihood of success.
  4. Skill Development: Actionable steps often involve the development of coping mechanisms, communication skills, and other tools necessary for resilience. By actively engaging in these steps, individuals can acquire and strengthen these skills, enhancing their ability to navigate challenges.
  5. Prevent Feeling Overwhelmed: Traumatic events and grief can be overwhelming, and the path to recovery may seem daunting. Breaking down the journey into actionable steps prevents individuals from feeling paralyzed by the magnitude of the task, making the process more approachable.
  6. Focus and Direction: Actionable steps provide a clear direction forward. They help individuals focus on specific aspects of their healing journey, reducing feelings of ambiguity or uncertainty. This clarity contributes to a sense of purpose and direction.
  7. Encourages Consistency: Gradual, consistent effort is often more effective than attempting radical changes. Actionable steps encourage a steady and sustained commitment to the recovery process, increasing the likelihood of long-term success.
  8. Coping Mechanisms: Actionable steps often involve the identification and practice of healthy coping mechanisms. Engaging in these activities helps individuals build a repertoire of strategies for managing stress, grief, and the challenges associated with trauma.
  9. Promotes Accountability: Actionable steps create a sense of accountability. When individuals actively commit to specific tasks, they are more likely to hold themselves accountable for their progress. This accountability reinforces a commitment to the healing process.
  10. Encourages Reflection: Actionable steps provide opportunities for reflection on one’s experiences, emotions, and growth. Reflection is essential for gaining insights into the recovery journey, fostering self-awareness, and promoting continuous learning.

Basically, our Actionable Steps serve as a practical roadmap for individuals seeking to rebuild resilience, process grief, and move forward after a traumatic event. They offer a structured and manageable approach, fostering empowerment, progress, and the acquisition of essential skills for long-term well-being.

SCARS Actionable Steps for Building Resilience & Recovery

  1. Embrace Failure: Understand that failure is not only an option but a necessary step towards building resilience. Embrace mistakes and view them as opportunities for growth. Each scam victim made a mistake talking to a scammer, after that the scam was not their fault. But now the scam is over and the victim is going to make many more mistakes during their recovery.
  2. Face Stressors: Resilience and recovery involves facing life stressors and challenges rather than avoiding or eliminating them. Approach stress as a natural part of life and an opportunity for learning. One of the biggest things that scam victims avoid is telling their story to family & friends (see our SCARS webinar about how to do that.)
  3. Learn from Mistakes: Resilience and recovery are cultivated by learning from mistakes, not by avoiding them. Acknowledge and reflect on your errors, using them as stepping stones for improvement. When you make a mistake own it! Talk about it in your support group!
  4. Rebound from Failure: Being resilient and recovering means bouncing back from failure. Develop the ability to recover and adapt in the face of setbacks, using them as opportunities for personal and professional growth. This is going to take a long time, so embrace each failure along the way because there will be many.
  5. Explore New Experiences: Resilient individuals are open to new experiences and challenges. Embrace opportunities for personal and professional growth, even if they come with the possibility of failure. Scam victims are not who they used to be, these crimes change people, so take advantage of new opportunities to enjoy your changes.
  6. Build Social Connections: Resilience is associated with strong social connections. Foster relationships with friends, family, and community members. Seek support during challenging times and offer support to others. For most victims, this is their support group, but you have to be present and participating, helping others as you have been helped – this builds new lasting trustworthy connections.
  7. Pursue Meaningful Experiences: Engage in activities that bring joy and meaning to your life. Pursue hobbies, volunteer work, or educational endeavors that align with your values and contribute to personal growth. SCARS recommends volunteering at local places where you can see and experience gratitude for your help – a zoo, a school, a hospital, or any place where your help has real value.
  8. Practice Compassion: Be compassionate towards yourself when facing challenges or setbacks. Avoid self-criticism and instead approach behavior change with understanding and patience. You should never blame yourself for the scam or want to punish yourself!
  9. Gradual Behavior Change: Implement slow and gradual behavior changes for long-term success. Start with manageable steps and gradually build on them, acknowledging progress along the way. When you want to change your behaviors start with the 5-minute rule – do the new thing for just 5 minutes a day, over time you will find you are doing it much longer.
  10. Exercise Compassion in Behavior Change: When striving to change behaviors, be compassionate with yourself. Avoid self-criticism if you miss a step and focus on the overall progress. Compassion enhances the likelihood of sustainable behavior change. If you forget or miss doing something don’t stop, start up the next day – the idea is just to keep going.
  11. Find Meaning in Pursuits: Engage in activities for the joy they bring rather than solely for stress reduction. Meaningful pursuits contribute to resilience by shifting focus away from stressors. As hard as it is for scam victims, within a few months you will have a smile on their face again.
  12. Welcome Stress: View stress as a natural part of life’s challenges. Embrace stress as an opportunity for personal and professional growth, allowing it to be a catalyst for resilience. Never let it shut you down. If you get too stressed or overwhelmed switch to something else for a while and come back to it when you are feeling less stressed – usually an hour or two is all you need.
  13. Capture Meaningful Moments: Like astronauts taking photos of Earth to manage stress, engage in activities that hold personal significance. Meaningful pursuits provide a sense of purpose and resilience. Record your achievements and happy moments in your journal, start taking photos again, and reward yourself for EVERY accomplishment.
  14. Enjoy the Journey: Whether navigating daily challenges or pursuing long-term goals, enjoy the process. Celebrate accomplishments, rebound from failures, and find joy in the journey towards resilience. This may be very difficult but be grateful that you have a process to follow, don’t waste it or the opportunity you have been given to rebuild and recover. Always remember to thank those helping you!

SCARS Resources:

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.

Opinions

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Society of Citizens Against Rleationship Scams Inc. The author is solely responsible for the content of their work. SCARS is protected under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 230 from liability.

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