SCARS Policy: Guiding Values For Serving Victims & Survivors Of Crime

A Policy of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. – SCARS

December 2020


The guiding values for serving victims and survivors of crime parallel those of many other professions; their uniqueness lies in their application to specific tasks of daily practice. These values have been the subject of discussion forums, conference workshops, training curricula, and professional literature, in both victim assistance and related fields. In our examination of existing literature, we found a particularly fitting description of values to guide the field in Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, published by the American Psychological Association. We have adapted and supplemented that text, and the resulting interpretation below outlines ideals of practice to guide everyday decision-making in serving victims and survivors of crime.

The use of the word “SCARS” in this document refers to our organization, its Directors & Management, Advisors and Partner, and Volunteers.

Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity

SCARS respects the fundamental rights, dignity, and worth of all people. SCARS recognizes that survivors are the experts on their own lives and that victim assistance programs serve to expand the survivor’s knowledge of and access to options that facilitate healing, self-sufficiency, and success, with the survivor guiding the decision-making process. SCARS respects the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, informed choice, self-determination, and autonomy; that is, individuals have the right to be free from intrusion, to have information about them protected, and to make their own decisions. SCARS is also mindful that legal and other obligations may sometimes present challenges or interfere with the ability of some victims to exercise these rights.

SCARS is aware of cultural, individual, and role differences, including those related to age, race/ethnicity, language/literacy, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ability/disability, social class, economic status, education, marital status, religious affiliation, immigration status, and HIV status. SCARS strives for awareness, sensitivity, and effectiveness in responding to diverse populations. SCARS work to identify their own biases, understanding that the expression of these biases can be re-victimizing to survivors. SCARS does not participate in or condone unfair discriminatory practices. SCARS values justice and fairness in service provision and strives to ensure that services are provided to populations in need. SCARS uses flexibility, innovation, and persistence to promote quality services, even when confronted by motivational or practical barriers.


SCARS maintains high standards of competence, recognizing their own particular capabilities, specializations, and limitations in expertise. SCARS provides services and uses techniques only for which SCARS are qualified by education, training, or experience. SCARS understands that the competencies SCARS needs to serve and educate groups of people vary with the particular characteristics of those groups. In those areas in which recognized standards do not yet exist, SCARS uses careful judgment and appropriate precautions to protect the welfare of those with whom SCARS work, under the guiding principle of “do no harm.” SCARS provides nonjudgmental assistance with an emphasis on client self-determination, where appropriate. SCARS maintains up-to-date knowledge on the services SCARS render and recognize their need for ongoing structured supervision and professional development to keep them informed of evidence-based practices and changes in the field. SCARS understands the importance of personal wellness for delivering services and promoting self-care and mutual support in their relationships with colleagues and staff. SCARS makes appropriate use of professional, technical, administrative, and community resources.


SCARS promotes integrity in practice, policy development, and community education. In these activities, we are honest, fair, and respectful of others. In describing their qualifications, services, products, fees, research, and teaching, SCARS does not make false, misleading, or deceptive statements. SCARS is honest and objective in fulfilling its commitments and communicating expectations as SCARS relates to justice or service systems. To perform at this level of integrity, SCARS is aware of its own histories, belief systems, values, needs, and limitations, and of the effect of these on their work. SCARS should clarify for relevant parties the roles SCARS are performing, and function in accord with those roles. SCARS should avoid improper and potentially harmful dual relationships (e.g., relationships that blend their personal and professional roles).

Professional Responsibility

SCARS maintain professional standards of conduct, satisfy their own professional roles and obligations, accept appropriate responsibility for their behavior, and adapt their methods to the needs of different populations. SCARS consults with, refers to, and cooperates with other professionals and institutions to the extent needed to serve the best interests of victims/survivors. SCARS moral standards and conduct are personal matters, except when personal conduct may compromise professional responsibilities or reduce public trust in victim services. SCARS is concerned about the ethical compliance of their colleagues’ professional conduct, both within their own programs and within other programs in the field, and related external activities. As appropriate, SCARS Team members consult with a SCARS DIrector to prevent or avoid their own unethical conduct and that of others.

Concern for Others’ Welfare

SCARS contributes to the welfare of those with whom SCARS interacts professionally. SCARS is committed to providing compassion for individuals, and SCARS uses empathy and other practical techniques to sincerely understand and address victim/survivor concerns, consistent with its policies and operational rules. SCARS takes a whole-person view of the individual in context. SCARS draws on their knowledge of the impact of trauma and victimization as well as community resources to address victim/survivor, family, and community needs. In their professional activities, SCARS weigh the welfare and rights of the victims served, staff, and other affected individuals. When conflict occurs with professional obligations or concerns, SCARS work to resolve these conflicts and to perform their roles responsibly. SCARS is sensitive to real and ascribed differences in power between themselves and others. SCARS abstains from abuse of their position, and SCARS do not exploit or mislead other people during or after professional relationships. However, SCARS acknowledges that it cannot help all victims and in those cases, SCARS will refer them to other professional provides to obtain services or support.

Social Responsibility

SCARS is aware of its professional, legal, and social responsibilities to the community in which SCARS works and lives. SCARS is committed to social justice and the physical and psychological well-being of all individuals, especially victims of crime and their families. SCARS is concerned about and strives to decrease the causes of crime and victimization. SCARS applies and makes public their knowledge of victim/survivor issues in order to raise awareness and potentially prevent future crime victimization. SCARS complies with the law and encourages the development of laws and social policies that support the interests of victims/survivors and the general public.