We estimate that 80% of the victims that pass through our support groups succeed!
What does that mean?
The answer is both very simple and very complicated.
We can identify people who have succeeded pretty easily: Everyone that graduates to Step 2 is a success. Everyone in our Step 3 group is a success. Everyone who volunteers is a success.
Who fails? About 20% will fail. 1 in 5 fail.
People who have gone through the group enough to have stabilized themselves emotionally
- Who has not fallen into another scam
- Who has not committed suicide
- Who has stayed with the program overall for more than 6 months
- Who have obtained a counselor or therapist (even if they had one before but are now digging deeper because of the scam)
- Who have really started learning about their own psychology
- Who accept and understand their own trauma
Plus we do follow-up surveys.
The 20% are those that leave our program in the first 6 months. Who are scammed again – happens in about 1-2%. Or have taken their life – yes this happens.
Success is not measured by any particular life milestone other than having stabilized themselves emotionally and having learned the knowledge and tools that can allow them success for the rest of their lives. If we can convince them to go to counseling or therapy that is a success too. We do not have a checklist that gives you a gold star and says you succeeded.
One simple measure is to look back at how you were in the beginning and now how you are (does not apply to new members)
Alcoholics Anonymous measures sobriety – a back-and-white measurement. We measure that ability to continue forward with the knowledge needed to understand the trauma and moderate their emotions. AAA says they have about a 12% success rate of sobriety after 5 years. That is for those that have gone to AA meetings. Of all alcoholics, the total population of alcoholics, AA fails 99%.
However, in the total population of scam victims, we fail 82% of the time – because most victims will never get the help they need. This is an estimate.
About 1/3 stay angry. About 1/3 stay in denial. Of those left, still, most of them will not seek help even if they are realists. Perhaps we should just give up?
Consider, a medical doctor fails 100% of the time – every patient will die. All they can do is postpone it.
How does anyone measure success in their life?
We have to keep that measure simple because everyone is different. But if you can come out of this process with some measure of control in your life. You are able to function again in your life. You are able to maintain the things you need to do in your life. These we count as successes, and so should all of you.
We know that trauma does not go away. We know that you can be triggered for the rest of your life. That new biases and phobias can emerge. New disorders from anxiety to depression, to bipolar disorder can emerge. Mental health is not a destination, it is a process, and all of you can stop caring for your mental health at any time. But that does not negate our purpose to be a bridge to get you over the river Styx and on your way away from this experience.
We know that the financial damage is severe for most of you and that it is going to take its toll for years to come but hopefully, you have become stabilized enough that you can deal with it more effectively than you would have without what we do.
We have always said that we have 2 goals – help to keep you alive, and help you avoid future scams. A fairly modest goal set. Because we cannot get inside your skull and clean house.
We are, first and foremost, an educator, a guide, and a pathway. The effectiveness of our work is hard to measure if we let our ruler get too complicated.
The reason why it is important to openly declare our failure rate is so that all of you who are reading this understand that, yes, you can fail. Failure is the opposite of success. Does failure mean you cannot function? No. It just means that the person is not with us, maybe got scammed again, or maybe never learned to process grief, manage trauma, or achieve happiness again in their life.
People function every day without joy. They carry their traumas as a badge of honor, proud in their suffering. After all, life is suffering.
But we all know that there can be joy too. Hopefully more than the suffering.
We do not care if you do not like us personally or if later on you do not think we did not value you enough. Such things do not matter. What matters is if you have some amount of your life back and you learned something along the way about how to better manage those worms crawling around in your brain.
But we are here to give you some new skills, some new knowledge, that hopefully will be useful in your life to come.
This is how we measure success
Have you ever noticed that most of the graphic depictions of success show either stairs going upward or the road going forward?
Success is movement, effort, hard work, and learning!
In a more industry-standard form, these are also measures of success:
- Reduced Emotional Impact: One of the primary goals of a support and recovery program is to reduce the symptoms of the condition that the program is designed to address, in our case this is emotional impact. Measuring the severity and frequency of emotions over time before and during the program can help determine if the program has been effective in reducing the emotional impact on the scam victim.
- Improved Functioning: Another important measure of success is the improved functioning of each scam victim. This can include improvements in activities of daily living, work or school performance, and social interactions.
- Improved Quality of Life: A successful support and recovery program should ultimately improve the quality of life of those scam victims who participate in it. Measuring changes in quality of life, such as increased satisfaction with life and reduced stress levels, trauma responses, and emotional triggers, can be an important measure of success.
- Participant Feedback: It is also important to gather feedback from participants in the support and recovery program. This can include surveys or interviews that ask about their experience with the program and if they feel it was helpful. From our feedback, we see that satisfaction tracks closely with our estimates.
Tim McGuinness, Ph.D.
Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.