Help for Crime Victims
Domestic Terrorism and Mass Violence
We would like to offer our deepest sympathy for the trauma you have endured and our support for your recovery. To help you navigate the resources and programs that may be of assistance to you, we have compiled the following guide.
Select from the menu below if you or a family member has been a victim of an act of terrorism or mass violence occurring within the United States and is seeking—
Seeking Crisis Counseling
You may contact the Disaster Distress Helpline, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, by calling the toll free number at 1–800–985–5990 or texting ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746. The Helpline operates 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week. This free, confidential, and multilingual, crisis support service is available to U.S. residents who are experiencing psychological distress as a result of natural or man-made disasters, incidents of mass violence, or any other disasters.
Seeking Information About the Investigation
The Terrorism and Special Jurisdictions Program
(TSJP) in the Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) manages the FBI’s operational victim assistance response to terrorist attacks inside the United States, criminal transportation disasters, and other mass casualty crimes. The TSJP consists of a highly specialized team of clinical and medical social workers, a forensic/mortuary affairs family liaison, and an operational psychologist with expertise in hostage victim recovery and reintegration. The Victim Assistance Rapid Deployment Team, consisting of experienced and skilled FBI victim specialists from across the country, is used to expand the capacity to support victims and operations in the aftermath of a terrorist or other mass casualty crime. Visit the FBI’s Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) Web page
for more information about the Federal and Special Jurisdictions Program.
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Seeking Information About the Criminal Justice Process
During the investigation and prosecution of acts of domestic terrorism and mass violence, victim-witness personnel in the Nation’s U.S. Attorneys’ offices’ will make sure that federal crime victims are given the opportunity to receive information and services as required under federal law and the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. For information about your rights and case information, contact the victim-witness personnel in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the district where the prosecution is pending. If you have already been contacted by a victim-witness coordinator, you should direct all correspondence to that individual.
All states receive federal funds from OVC to help them support local victim assistance and victim compensation programs. In the aftermath of an act of terrorism or mass violence, you may be eligible for crime victim compensation benefits such as reimbursement for the cost of medical services, mental health counseling, lost wages, and other expenses incurred as a result of the crime. Victim compensation benefits are governed by applicable state statutes, so eligibility may vary among states. Contact the compensation program located in the state where the crime occurred for more information about eligibility and the application process. To find the victim compensation program you need, go to OVC’s map of state programs, click on the state in which the crime occurred, and then click on the "VOCA State Contacts" tab for the program’s contact information.
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Seeking Additional Information and Resources
We at OVC will never understand the depths of your despair, but we have compiled the following list of programs and publications that may help you understand and manage your reactions to terrorism and mass violence.
The Dougy Center focuses on grief support groups for children and teens from 3 to 18 years old, and their families, who are grieving the death of a parent, sibling, or friend. Through the center’s Web site, you can access a database of centers throughout the country that provide grief support and services. The center also provides educational materials about children and grief.
The National Organization of Parents Of Murdered Children (POMC) is a national self-help organization for the families and friends of children who have been murdered. POMC provides the ongoing emotional support and promotes healthy grief resolution that parents and other survivors need to build a "new life" after experiencing a child’s murder.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was established to improve access to care, treatment, and services for children and adolescents who have been exposed to traumatic events. The following materials related to catastrophic mass violence incidents are available from the network:
The National Center for Trauma Informed Care, operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provides training for policy makers, administrators, staff, leaders, peers, and individuals who have experienced traumatic events in order to implement trauma-informed approaches in a range of service systems, including mental health, criminal justice and victim assistance.
The Association for Death Education and Counseling®, The Thanatology Association®, is one of the oldest interdisciplinary organizations in the field of thanatology (the study of dying, death, and bereavement). The public section of this Web site contains information about coping with loss, particularly regarding topics such as children’s or adolescents grief; death of a child, friend, grandchild, grandparent, parent, sibling, or spouse; cultural differences in how people mourn; the grief process; how to help someone who is grieving; natural disasters, terrorism, and war; and violence and traumatic death.
The Survivors of Violent Loss is an online network and resource for those who work with and live with violent death. The site’s content is an extension of the program that was formed in 1998 in San Diego, CA, to provide a lifeline of hope and healing and to address the issue of traumatic grief among co-victims of homicide, suicide, drunk driving, and terrorist fatalities.
Coping with the Aftermath of a Disaster
This fact sheet provides general information on people’s physical and emotional responses to a disaster as well as information about seeking support from mental health professionals.
Healing the Invisible Wounds: Children’s Exposure to Violence - A Guide for Families
This guide for families from the Safe Start Center provides guidance for loved ones and service providers on how to identify and respond to the needs of children who have been exposed to violence.
Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do
This booklet describes what parents can do to help children and adolescents cope with violence and disasters.
Managing Traumatic Stress: Coping with Terrorism, from the American Psychological Association
This fact sheet from the American Psychological Association discusses who may be affected by traumatic stress in the aftermath of a terrorist attack and describes the symptoms they may experience.
OVC Handbook for Coping After Terrorism: A Guide to Healing and Recovery
This handbook provides victims of terrorism with information about how they may feel or react. It is based on the expertise of mental health, crisis counseling, and victim assistance professionals.
OVC Help Series for Crime Victims: Homicide
The OVC HELP Series of brochures is a resource for victims of crime and the victim service providers that work with them every day. Each brochure defines a type of victimization, discusses what to do if you are the victim of this crime, and provides national resources for more information and where to go for help.
Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event: A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers
This fact sheet helps parents and teachers to recognize common reactions children of different age groups (preschool, early childhood, adolescence) experience after a disaster or traumatic event. It also offers tips on how to respond to children and adolescents in a helpful way, and when to seek support.
What You Can Do If You Are a Victim of Crime
This brochure highlights victims’ rights and compensation and assistance programs as well as listing national organizations that will help victims to find information or obtain referrals.
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