Married Scam Victims How Could You?
See below for the 5 Steps to Rebuilding Trust After a Romance Scam
It was because you were expertly lured and manipulated that it happened!
DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF
DO NOT BLAME YOUR SPOUSE
BLAME THE SCAMMER!
This is the hardest part for spouses to understand: how could you be unfaithful? But as we have explained before, the victim was most often unaware that they were being groomed until it was too late. They were lured in and then manipulated by a process that victimized a million victims a year.
Wives, husbands, and family can believe what they want, but the vast majority of married victims do not intend to have an affair or relationship with someone new online. Their only intention was to talk with someone new – either out of curiosity, loneliness or for other reasons. But infidelity is normally never even considered until it happens.
This is actually quite different than in real life. In real life, a man or woman must make a conscious decision to be unfaithful – they have to willingly connect with the other person and then physically act on their desires. In digital life, once the victim says hello then the hard-core manipulation begins, and most victims are powerless to stop it.
DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND: EVERYONE CAN BE SCAMMED
MOST PEOPLE ARE POWERLESS TO STOP IT
We do understand the issues and the emotions involved by a spouse that found their mate – not only in an intimate relationship online – but also sending money to this stranger. These are real trust-breaking issues. But it is important to remember that major difference – intent and manipulation.
Spouses should be upset with the scammers, not their spouses!
However, coming back from the cliff is not easy, and we strongly recommend that the victim go through counseling to clear the residual issues with the fake relationship, and then couples counseling to clear the air and make it clear that this was not an intention.
We encourage family members to learn and understand how these scams work, just as they would if they were dealing with an addict in their family. Far too often the superficial impressions drive the feelings and emotions of spouses. It takes courage on both sides to accept what happened, that it was not intentional and that the marriage can remain intact. This is something that counseling can do very well.
We suggest the following SCARS information – for the victim and their spouse – must read the first three of these:
Need Proof That This Is Engineered?
Actual scammer training guides – just the tip of the iceberg!
SCARS 5 Steps To Rebuilding Trust In A Marriage After A Romance Scam
Since we are all sinful dysfunctional people who at some time will prove ourselves to be untrustworthy, every important relationship in our life will require the rebuilding of trust at some point in time.
Sometimes it may only be a slight “remodeling” while at other times (such as after a romance scam) it will be a complete “rebuilding” process.
In some of our relationships, it may seem much easier to just cut and run. We decide the relationship isn’t worth the effort of rebuilding. And this may be true in some situations, but seldom is it ever true of marriage. You might even say that one of the purposes of marriage is to teach us how to rebuild trust when it is broken.
This is especially true following a romance scam since the lost trust was not intentional (in most cases). And was caused by a deliberate action by a malevolent third-part. You could say that this most resembles picking up the pieces after an accident. Would you abandon your spouse if they were in the emergency room following an accident that was not their fault? Why consider it now then?
Here are the steps to take when trust needs to be rebuilt.
STEP 1: A SINCERE CONFESSION OF THE TRUTH
The romance scam happened. We all know it did, but regardless of how one finds out, healing begins when the scam victim fully confesses the whole truth.
The whole truth does not mean every intimate detail — that puts too much of a burden on the shoulders of the betrayed spouse. The rule of thumb on how much to confess is this:
If you want to seriously rebuild trust with a spouse, the scam victim must confess anything that, if it were to found out later, would undermine the rebuilding of trust.
If the spouse is dealing with a less painful betrayal, the principle is still the same. If any information has been withheld in the form of a secret, or if one spouse has been lied to about anything, the need for a sincere confession of the truth always marks the starting point. Without it, the spouse cannot move forward. Couples who try to sweep any kind of lie under the carpet risk lessening, or even losing, the intimacy they long for.
STEP 2: COMPLETE OPENNESS ON THE PART OF THE SCAM VICTIM (THE BETRAYER)
This is an essential part of the healing process.
The spouse who has had an internet affair (unintentional or not) has given up control of his or her life at least for as long as it takes to rebuild trust. He or she gives up control by becoming an open book to his/her spouse. No secrets allowed. Cellphone bills, travel itineraries, browser and message history, whereabouts at any given point in time, complete accessibility — all of these are part of our becoming open to our spouse about all aspects of our life. Anything less than complete openness restricts the rebuilding of trust.
The principle is one of complete openness. There can be nothing that remains hidden, or else when it is found out, and it will be, it will destroy the trust that was re-established. And the second time trust is breached is more serious. There is the old adage that says, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Few marriages can survive the “fool me twice” syndrome.
STEP 3: THERE MUST BE GENUINE SORROW ON THE PART OF THE SCAM VICTIM BETRAYER
Note that we said sorrow, not guilt or blame. Sorrow is sadness for something – in this case, that the romance scam happened.
This also is a key to rebuilding trust. Without it, it’s like building a brick wall without cement. The goal of rebuilding trust is that at some point there is genuine sorrow on the part of the one who lived the lie, and genuine forgiveness on the part of the one betrayed. Without both of these conditions, the marital reconciliation is going to be very superficial and very unsatisfying to both parties. Again, the principle is the same, even for the little lie of omission, or the little white lie.
When confronted by the spouse, the victim needs to confess the truth, become completely open about the subject, and show genuine sorrow for the betrayal. Every lie in a marriage is a form of betrayal, and so regardless of the seriousness of the betrayal, the process is the same.
STEP 4: REBUILDING TRUST TAKES TIME AND PATIENCE
Rebuilding trust always takes time.
The more serious the offense or perceived offense, the more time it will take for it to be repaired.
A small lie of omission may take a couple of days, whereas an online affair (romance scam) may take a year or two just to get to level ground again. So rebuilding means both the offender and the offended need to be patient with the process.
STEP 5: GRATITUDE
One of the things that is often overlooked by both parties following a rebuilding of trust is simple gratitude!
The victim needs to be genuinely grateful that their spouse has accepted them again, or at least is working on it. And the spouse should be grateful that the victim of the scam is doing everything in their power to reestablish trust and to rebuild the marriage following the scam.
If one party is not grateful and treats it as an expectation or entitlement then it will fail. Gratitude is the feedback and reward system built into the process. Gratitude rewards the efforts of both parties and brings life back in – it is not the light at the end of the tunnel, it is the flashlight that helps you get there!
If each party is not grateful for the new opportunity, then there is no point in proceeding.
It is important to understand that a scam victim may have experienced trauma as a result of the manipulation and aftermath of the scam. The spouse will also have experienced trauma as well. This is the reason why we strongly recommend counseling for both people, both separate and together.
This Is Very Hard
If you are the victim or the spouse reading this you will have to accept a lot – it did happen and it will require work to recover. Each person has to accept that.
But you both can make it through this.
We wish you all the best!