Relationship Scam Victims – The Impact On Employment And Jobs – Saving Employment After A Scam

Recovery Psychology

•  Vianey Gonzalez – 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.

Article Abstract

The article examines the challenges faced by scam victims of relationship scams in maintaining their employment post-scam, outlining the emotional trauma’s impact on job performance. Authors Vianey Gonzalez and Dr. Tim McGuinness shed light on the struggles of scam victims, whose grief and emotional distress permeate into the workplace, making work seem insurmountable.

The emotional aftermath disrupts work routines, triggers absenteeism, and hampers productivity due to trauma-induced symptoms like brain fog, reduced motivation, and concentration difficulties. Scam victims also experience fear of judgment and social isolation at work, amplifying the emotional burden.

The piece offers advice, urging victims to seek professional help, join support groups, prioritize self-care, communicate with employers, and understand their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to secure accommodations. It emphasizes that though recovery takes time, it’s possible to reclaim professional stability with support and resilience.

For Relationship Scam Victims Work Feels Impossible – The Hidden Cost of Romance Scams on Careers

For Scam Victims losing love can be devastating when you are the victim of a relationship scam.

When that love was a lie, a romance or relationship scam, woven by a gang of deceitful romance scammers, can force the pain can spill over into every corner of life, including one crucial area: work. For many scam victims, the emotional trauma and grief brought on by relationship scams can make holding down a job feel impossible.

Fortunately, scam victims have rights that can help them hold onto their jobs.

The Mental Challenges from a Relationship Scam

Navigating the aftermath of a relationship scam can be a daunting challenge, often leaving victims grappling with not just emotional scars but also profound difficulties in maintaining employment. The shattering impact of being deceived in a scam can have profound repercussions that spill over into the professional realm.

The emotional upheaval resulting from becoming a scam victim is make so much worse by having to navigate the storm of grief and trauma afterward. For many, the betrayal and heartache inflicted by the fraudulent relationship can profoundly impact their mental health, leading to a rollercoaster of emotions that extend far beyond personal life and seep into the workplace.

Workplace Impact

One of the biggest hurdles scam victims face is managing the emotional aftermath while trying to sustain their work routine.

Moreover, the sheer magnitude of grief and trauma experienced due to the scam can often lead to absenteeism or frequent leaves from work. The emotional toll may trigger bouts of anxiety or depression, making it challenging to cope with workplace stressors or even maintain regular work hours.

Scam Victims Work Performance

The impact on work performance can be subtle but significant or completely devastating.

The emotional trauma and grief caused by these scams can manifest in various ways that hinder your work performance, such as:

  • Brain Fog and Concentration Deficit: The emotional turmoil (the trauma) can cloud your thinking, making it hard to focus on work tasks. Emails pile up unanswered, reports sit half-written, and that crucial presentation suddenly feels like gibberish.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: The emotional turmoil can cloud your thinking, making it hard to focus on tasks and deadlines. But more importantly is that it can actually impact your ability to think and solve problems.
  • Reduced Motivation and Energy: Trauma and grief can sap your energy, leaving you feeling drained and uninspired. Tasks that once held spark now feel like drudgery. Dragging yourself to work, let alone giving your best, becomes a daily test of endurance.
  • Increased Absenteeism and Decreased Productivity: The emotional rollercoaster can trigger physical symptoms from the trauma and associated stress and anxiety, like headaches or fatigue, leading to more missed days and still lower productivity. The fear of breaking down at work adds another layer of stress.
  • Fear of judgment and social isolation: Sharing your experience with colleagues can be challenging due to fear of judgment or unsolicited advice, but also because of shame. This isolation can exacerbate the emotional burden and make it harder to seek support, further impacting work performance.

The constant battle with trust issues, feelings of guilt, shame, and the sheer weight of betrayal can significantly impact their ability to concentrate, focus, and perform effectively on the job. The mental turmoil often results in decreased productivity, difficulty concentrating, and an overwhelming sense of emotional exhaustion.

But remember, you’re not alone. Romance and relationship scams are more common than you think, and the emotional toll they take is real.

What You can do to Improve the Situation

Here’s what you can do to navigate this challenging time:

  • Seek Professional Help: Don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist or counselor trained in trauma recovery. They can equip you with coping mechanisms, rebuild your confidence, and guide you back to emotional equilibrium.
  • Join a Professionally Managed Scam Victim’s Support Group: SCARS provides free, safe, and confidential support groups specifically for scam victims. To sign up go to
  • Talk to Someone You Trust: Confide in a supportive colleague, friend, or family member. Sharing your burden can ease the isolation and provide invaluable emotional support.
  • Prioritize Self-Care: Make time for activities that nourish your well-being, like exercise, mindfulness and meditation, or spending time in nature. Taking care of yourself is crucial for emotional recovery and building resilience.
  • Be Patient and Kind to Yourself: Healing takes time. Don’t beat yourself up for not performing at your peak. Focus on small wins, celebrate progress, and forgive yourself for slip-ups.
  • Communicate with Your Employer: If you’re struggling, consider talking to your supervisor. Explain your situation without going into unnecessary detail, and explore options like flexible work arrangements or temporary leave.
  • You Have Rights: See the section below on your rights when you are mentally impaired, disabled, or incapacitated. Trauma and grief, and related issues look like they are covered.

Remember, you are not defined by this ordeal. Your career path wasn’t built on quicksand, it’s anchored in your skills, talent, and resilience. With time, self-compassion, and the right supportcounseling or therapy and professional support, you can navigate this storm and climb back to your professional peak, stronger and more empowered than ever before.

Additionally, you are probably protected by laws that help protect employment for those who are permanently or temporarily disabled.

According to the U.S. Government

If you have depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or another mental health condition, you are protected against discrimination and harassment at work because of your condition, you have workplace privacy rights, and you may have a legal right to get reasonable accommodations that can help you perform and keep your job. The following questions and answers briefly explain these rights, which are provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You may also have additional rights under other laws not discussed here, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and various medical insurance laws.

From the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

1. Is my employer allowed to fire me because I have a mental health condition?

No. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you simply because you have a mental health condition. This includes firing you, rejecting you for a job or promotion, or forcing you to take leave.

An employer doesn’t have to hire or keep people in jobs they can’t perform or employ people who pose a “direct threat” to safety (a significant risk of substantial harm to self or others). But an employer cannot rely on myths or stereotypes about your mental health condition when deciding whether you can perform a job or whether you pose a safety risk. Before an employer can reject you for a job based on your condition, it must have objective evidence that you can’t perform your job duties, or that you would create a significant safety risk, even with a reasonable accommodation (see Question 3).

2. Am I allowed to keep my condition private?

In most situations, you can keep your condition private. An employer is only allowed to ask medical questions (including questions about mental health) in four situations:

When you ask for a reasonable accommodation (see Question 3).

After it has made you a job offer, but before employment begins, as long as everyone entering the same job category is asked the same questions.
When it is engaging in affirmative action for people with disabilities (such as an employer tracking the disability status of its applicant pool in order to assess its recruitment and hiring efforts, or a public sector employer considering whether special hiring rules may apply), in which case you may choose whether to respond.

On the job, when there is objective evidence that you may be unable to do your job or that you may pose a safety risk because of your condition.

You also may need to discuss your condition to establish eligibility for benefits under other laws, such as the FMLA. If you do talk about your condition, the employer cannot discriminate against you (see Question 5), and it must keep the information confidential, even from co-workers. (If you wish to discuss your condition with coworkers, you may choose to do so.)

3. What if my mental health condition could affect my job performance?

You may have a legal right to a reasonable accommodation that would help you do your job. A reasonable accommodation is some type of change in the way things are normally done at work. Just a few examples of possible accommodations include altered break and work schedules (e.g., scheduling work around therapy appointments), quiet office space or devices that create a quiet work environment, changes in supervisory methods (e.g., written instructions from a supervisor who usually does not provide them), specific shift assignments, and permission to work from home.

You can get a reasonable accommodation for any mental health condition that would, if left untreated, “substantially limit” your ability to concentrate, interact with others, communicate, eat, sleep, care for yourself, regulate your thoughts or emotions, or do any other “major life activity.” (You don’t need to actually stop treatment to get the accommodation.)

Your condition does not need to be permanent or severe to be “substantially limiting.” It may qualify by, for example, making activities more difficult, uncomfortable, or time-consuming to perform compared to the way that most people perform them. If your symptoms come and go, what matters is how limiting they would be when the symptoms are present. Mental health conditions like major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) should easily qualify, and many others will qualify as well.

4. How can I get a reasonable accommodation?

Ask for one. Tell a supervisor, HR manager, or other appropriate person that you need a change at work because of a medical condition. You may ask for an accommodation at any time. Because an employer does not have to excuse poor job performance, even if it was caused by a medical condition or the side effects of medication, it is generally better to get a reasonable accommodation before any problems occur or become worse. (Many people choose to wait to ask for accommodation until after they receive a job offer, however, because it’s very hard to prove illegal discrimination that takes place before a job offer.) You don’t need to have a particular accommodation in mind, but you can ask for something specific.

5. What will happen after I ask for a reasonable accommodation?

Your employer may ask you to put your request in writing, and to generally describe your condition and how it affects your work. The employer also may ask you to submit a letter from your health care provider documenting that you have a mental health condition, and that you need an accommodation because of it. If you do not want the employer to know your specific diagnosis, it may be enough to provide documentation that describes your condition more generally (by stating, for example, that you have an “anxiety disorder”). Your employer also might ask your health care provider whether particular accommodations would meet your needs. You can help your health care provider understand the law of reasonable accommodation by bringing a copy of the EEOC publication The Mental Health Provider’s Role in a Client’s Request for a Reasonable Accommodation at Work to your appointment.

If a reasonable accommodation would help you to do your job, your employer must give you one unless the accommodation involves significant difficulty or expense. If more than one accommodation would work, the employer can choose which one to give you. Your employer can’t legally fire you, or refuse to hire or promote you, because you asked for a reasonable accommodation or because you need one. It also cannot charge you for the cost of the accommodation.

6. What if there’s no way I can do my regular job, even with an accommodation?

If you can’t perform all the essential functions of your job to normal standards and have no paid leave available, you still may be entitled to unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation if that leave will help you get to a point where you can perform those functions. You may also qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is enforced by the United States Department of Labor. More information about this law can be found at

If you are permanently unable to do your regular job, you may ask your employer to reassign you to a job that you can do as a reasonable accommodation, if one is available. More information on reasonable accommodations in employment, including reassignment, is available here.

7. What if I am being harassed because of my condition?

Harassment based on a disability is not allowed under the ADA. You should tell your employer about any harassment if you want the employer to stop the problem. Follow your employer’s reporting procedures if there are any. If you report the harassment, your employer is legally required to take action to prevent it from occurring in the future.

8. What should I do if I think that my rights have been violated?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can help you decide what to do next and conduct an investigation if you decide to file a charge of discrimination. Because you must file a charge within 180 days of the alleged violation in order to take further legal action (or 300 days if the employer is also covered by a state or local employment discrimination law), it is best to begin the process early. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for contacting the EEOC or filing a charge. For more information, visit, call 800-669-4000 (voice) or 800-669-6820 (TTY), or visit your local EEOC office (see for contact information).


Don’t let the criminals steal your career along with your heart. You can make it through this.

Remember, this was not your fault and you are not alone! You are a survivor!

If you make the effort to recover and do your best you can hold on to your employment according to the U.S. government. You have rights, and those rights include accommodation for your psychological challenges after a scam.

However, to retain those rights we recommend that you both seek out trauma counseling or therapy and join a professional support group that can provide you with the necessary proof in the event of an ADA conflict. We cannot provide you with legal advices since we are not attorneys, but if you have questions about your legal rights, we recommend that you speak with a licensed attorney specializing in employment law.

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.


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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