After A Scam Or Crime Is Over, Its Victims Are Left To Figure Out How To Go Forward And What Changes Need To Be Made In Their Life!
Scam victim changes come at every stage of the post-crime recovery. They vary from stage to stage as the person goes from being a victim to a survivor to a thrive! At each stage, different changes are needed both for safety and to allow emotional and psychological recovery.
These changes fall generally into 4 main categories:
- Procedural Changes
- Behavioral Changes
- Psychological Changes
- Sociological (Social) Changes
The Survival Changes: Procedural & Behavioral
As it relates to scam or crime victims, procedural changes and behavioral changes refer to two distinct aspects of their lives that may be affected following the traumatic event.
Procedural changes involve modifications or adjustments to the practical aspects of a crime victim’s life. These changes often relate to legal procedures, safety measures, and systems put in place to address the aftermath of the crime.
Here are some examples:
- Safety Measures: Victims of crime may implement procedural changes to enhance their personal safety and security. This can involve installing security systems in their homes, changing locks, seeking restraining orders or protection orders, or taking self-defense classes. They may also become more cautious about personal safety in various aspects of their lives, such as travel or social activities.
- Legal Procedures: Crime victims may experience procedural changes in their interactions with the criminal justice system. This can include reporting the crime, providing statements to law enforcement, participating in investigations, and possibly testifying in court. They may need to navigate through legal processes, such as attending hearings, meetings with lawyers, or seeking restitution.
- Accessing Support Services: Procedural changes may include seeking and accessing support services available to crime victims. This can involve contacting victim assistance programs, counseling services, or support groups to receive emotional support, guidance, or practical assistance. It may also involve applying for financial compensation or accessing resources for trauma recovery.
Behavioral changes refer to alterations in a crime victim’s patterns of thoughts, emotions, and actions following the traumatic event. These changes are often related to psychological and emotional responses to the crime.
Here are some examples:
- Emotional Responses: Victims of crime may experience behavioral changes in their emotional responses. This can manifest as increased anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, or irritability. They may also develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as nightmares, flashbacks, or hypervigilance.
- Coping Mechanisms: Crime victims may adopt new coping strategies (good or bad) or modify existing ones to manage the emotional impact of the crime. This can include engaging in therapy or counseling, practicing relaxation techniques, journaling, or seeking support from other victims or friends and family. Behavioral changes may involve avoiding triggers or situations that evoke distressing memories or emotions.
- Lifestyle Modifications: Scam or fraud victims may make behavioral changes in their lifestyle to regain a sense of control or to promote their overall well-being. This can include changes in routines, social activities, or relationships. They may prioritize self-care activities, engage in new hobbies, or seek out positive experiences to aid their healing and recovery.
- Trust and Relationships: Scam victims may experience changes in their ability to trust others or form new relationships. They may become more cautious or guarded in their interactions, and it may take time for them to rebuild trust. These behavioral changes can affect their relationships with family, friends, and especially new acquaintances.
It’s important to note that procedural and behavioral changes can often intersect and influence each other. The impact of the crime on a victim’s life can lead to modifications in both practical and emotional aspects as they navigate through the aftermath of the traumatic event and work towards healing and recovery.
Post-Crime Stabilizing Or Destabilizing Changes: Psychological & Social
Psychological and social changes in a crime victim’s life refer to distinct aspects of their experiences and adaptations following the traumatic event.
You may note that some of these overlap with Behavioral changes. As always, the devil is in the details that lead us to look at them as being one of the other.
Psychological changes pertain to alterations in a crime victim’s internal processes, thoughts, emotions, and overall mental well-being. These changes are often related to the psychological impact of the crime.
Here are some examples:
- Emotional Responses: Crime victims may undergo psychological changes in their emotional responses. This can involve heightened levels of anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, or a range of other emotions. They may also experience symptoms of trauma-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety disorders.
- Cognitive Processing: Psychological changes may encompass alterations in a victim’s cognitive processing (cognitive dissonance.) This can involve intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or difficulty concentrating or making decisions. Victims may experience negative beliefs about themselves or the world, or develop a sense of hypervigilance about potential threats.
- Self-Identity: Crime can deeply impact a victim’s self-identity. They may experience a shift in how they perceive themselves, their self-esteem, or their sense of control over their lives. Psychological changes may involve questioning their beliefs, values, or personal assumptions in the aftermath of the crime.
- Coping Mechanisms: Crime victims may adapt their psychological coping mechanisms to manage the emotional and psychological impact of the event. This can include seeking therapy or counseling, engaging in self-care activities, practicing relaxation techniques, or seeking support from loved ones. Psychological changes often revolve around finding ways to navigate and process the trauma.
Social changes refer to modifications in a crime victim’s social interactions, relationships, and broader social functioning. These changes stem from the consequences of the crime on their social life and relationships. Here are some examples:
- Social Support Network: Social changes may involve adjustments in a victim’s social support network. They may seek support from family, friends, or support groups, or they may find that existing relationships shift in response to the trauma. Victims may also form new connections with individuals who have experienced similar traumas. Or they may walk away from support groups or family and friends because they cannot face them, often seeing reasons for taking these actions that are not really there.
- Trust and Relationships: Scams can significantly impact a victim’s ability to trust others and form new relationships. They may experience difficulties in trusting others due to the betrayal or violation they endured. Social changes can involve a reassessment of existing relationships, the establishment of boundaries, and a cautious approach to forming new connections, especially with strangers. This is not bad, unless it leads to the disillusionment of existing relationships for the wrong reasons.
- Isolation and Withdrawal: Some crime victims may experience social changes that involve isolation or withdrawal from social activities and interactions. They may retreat from social engagements, avoid certain places or situations that remind them of the crime, or experience difficulties engaging in social activities due to heightened anxiety or fear.
- Advocacy and Activism: Social changes can also encompass a victim’s engagement in advocacy or activism (or revenge and vigilantism) related to the crime they experienced. Some victims may develop savior syndrome and believe that they are the only ones that can help other victims, or more positively participate in organizations such as SCARS that professionally support crime victims.
It’s important to recognize that psychological and social changes in a crime victim’s life often interact and influence one another. The psychological impact of the crime can affect their social interactions and relationships, and changes in their social environment can have implications for their psychological well-being.
Supporting scam victims may involve addressing all of the procedural, behavioral, psychological, and social dimensions of their experiences to promote healing, resilience, and a sense of social connectedness.