What To Do When Someone Close To You Experiences The Personal Trauma Of A Romance Scam

For Families & Friends

A SCARS Insight

What To Do When Someone Close To Has Been In A Romance Scam

The nature of life is such that, occasionally, we all experience traumatic events. We don’t mean for them to occur – they just do. And when a friend or a close family member suffers from one of them, it’s important to know what to do to help them through the aftermath.

This is especially true following a romance scam which can be profoundly traumatizing!

When you’re in this position, seeing your friend or family members suffering through the aftermath of the scam you will feel unsure, confused, and may not know what to do or say to help.

Before Anything

Avoid being judgmental! Your friend or family member will be blaming themself far more than you could ever do. Instead of asking a lot of questions, simply listen and let them talk.

Listening is especially important because suicides are common in scam victims. Be sure to listen for any indicators of self-harm or intent to kill themself. Make sure that your friend or family members have these numbers handing in case they need to talk to someone and you are not available:

Helpful Strategies

Consider these strategies whenever someone close to you suffers a trauma:

1. Use your past knowledge of the person. Are they usually quiet? Do they talk your leg off normally? Consider how they might respond to the troubling event they’ve recently experienced. Anticipating how your friend or family members will behave can help you be better prepared to be the best friend you can be to your cherished friend or loved one.

2. Be supportive. When you’re near this person, think about what you could to do help them most. Focus your efforts. Do they usually enjoy going for a walk or out to coffee? Maybe they’ve always loved going to lunch at a particular restaurant. You can be supportive by inviting your friend or family member to do things they enjoy. If they do not appear interested, consider inviting them to a quiet dinner and evening watching a movie at your house. Going to your home might be a more relaxing, less overwhelming experience for your friend or family member than going out. Allow your loved one to move at his or her own pace. He or she must experience this journey as it unfolds.

3. Acknowledge to your friend or family member that you’re sorry about what happened to them. Sometimes, a statement as simple as, “I’m so sorry this happened to you” can be all that’s necessary to give your friend or family member the opportunity to talk openly about how they feel. Giving this simple “sorry” also provides important acknowledgment to your friend that you recognize have been through a major event in their life. Doing so is at least one step closer to showing you are trying to understand how he feels.

4. Tell your friend you’ll be there for them at any time. Make it clear that your friend or family member is free to call you or drop by your home whenever they feel like it. Even though it might take some effort on your part to be on stand-by for them, later on, you’ll be glad you did. Strive to do whatever it takes to come to their aid because literally, their life might depend on it.

5. Call your friend more frequently than usual to check in with them. Share information about your day or what you’ve been doing. Talk about the book you’re reading or how your kids (if you have any) are doing in school. Hopefully, your friend will do the same. ABP – Always be positive. Taking this step will begin to normalize your friend’s life again, which is not always welcomed, given the unusual trauma they’ve recently experienced – but it will make a difference.

6. Listen. Many times, someone who’s gone through a romance scam simply wants to talk about it but is afraid of being judged or scolded. It is not even necessary to comment or give your opinion of what your friend has been through as long as you’re listening, they know you care. Let them talk as much as they can or want to.

7. Have patience. Because your friend or family member might not recover in the same way that you would or that you expect him to, patience will come in handy. There’s no defined timeline for getting over a traumatic event like a romance scam – each person is different, but based upon SCARS’ experience with several million scam victims the recovery process can take one or more years (see the chart below.) Therefore, having patience will enable them to progress at a pace necessary for them.

8. If they are expressing anger, try to encourage moderation. Anger is an incredibly destructive emotion, and about 1/3 of all scam victims lose themselves in it. Anger is a natural part of the grief they are experiencing, but you can help them understand that anger can derail their emotional recovery.

9. Encourage counseling. The trauma from relationship scams is very real and it does not simply go away. SCARS always recommends trauma counseling for all scam victims. This is the best way to recover in the shortest amount of time. There is no shame in getting help, help them understand this. Even volunteer to take them to the counselor or therapist (this strategy also helps assure that actually go.)

10. If they are ready, encourage a professional scam victims’ support group. SCARS offers online crime victims support groups for women and men, in English and in Spanish. You can find our groups on Facebook. Our trauma-informed groups are professionally moderated and only allow scam victims – they are completely private and confidential. With our team’s 31 year history of helping scam victims and our numerous certifications, we understand better than any how to help victims through this. Your encouragement though can be the difference between them accepting help or not.

11. Help them to start learning why and how this happened. This website is a rich encyclopedia of information about scams, but more importantly about the psychology of victims. This will help them understand how they were targetted, groomed, and manipulated. It is important that they understand that everyone can and will be scammed – including you – and the truth about how scammers work. Knowledge and learning is a major component in scam victim recovery.

When someone you care about experiences a traumatic event like a romance scam (or any impactful crime,) it might take them a long time to fully recover from it. However, you can serve as a great support to encourage your friend to gradually get back into their life.

Following the simple steps above will aid you to provide the special assistance your friend or family member needs to continue down the path to recovery.

Your optimism, confidence, and personal support will show through when you reach out to help a loved one in need. Just remember that people who have been traumatized are not always able to show appreciation for your effort. In fact, at times it may be very difficult to help them, but stick with it, they will come around in time!

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