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Resource Guide for Serving U.S. Citizens Victimized Abroad
Publication Date:  April 2008
Victim Services: An International Outlook
minus iconResponding to Victimization Abroad
minus iconCoordinating Victim Services
minus iconIf the Victim Remains Abroad
minus iconIf the Victim Returns to the United States
minus iconInternational Terrorism
minus iconCrime Victim Compensation
Checklists for Assisting U.S. Citizens Victimized Abroad

Victim Services: An International Outlook

Victim Assistance Worldwide

Although the United Nations has established and promoted the basic crime victim rights individuals should have if victimized overseas, implementation of these rights is left to the discretion of individual countries. Therefore, services for victims of crimes differ dramatically from country to country and are shaped by a variety of cultural, social, and economic variables.

Overall, more victim assistance resources are available in Europe, Asia, and Latin America than in other regions. In many nations, services for victims of crime either are limited or do not exist at all. The notion of a victim advocate who can provide basic victim assistance to a U.S. citizen abroad, such as crisis intervention, referrals, counseling, court accompaniment, financial assistance, safety planning, advocacy, or case management, is typically rare. Additionally, in most countries, victim compensation programs, legal assistance, specialized police involvement, and other resources might not be available to foreign visitors.

Consequently, domestic service providers who assist U.S. citizens who have been victimized abroad should not—

  • Presume the levels or types of services available in the United States are available elsewhere.

  • Foster unrealistic expectations for the victim or victim's family in terms of services provided to them or what they can do for themselves.

  • Impose preexisting ideas of professional inadequacy when assisting in cases with unfamiliar international components.

Nevertheless, in pursuing assistance for U.S. citizens who have been victims of crime abroad, U.S.-based service providers can take advantage of resources in the United States and overseas that offer strong foreign experience.


United Nations
Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services
888-407-4747 (8 a.m.–8 p.m. e.t.)
202-647-5225 (all other times)