Office for Victims of Crime - Justice for Victims. Justice for All
Justice for Victims. Justice for All
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Support for the Victims of the Shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

OVC staff extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The following resources may be able to help victims, their families, and the community, as well as the victim service providers, law enforcement, and first responders that are assisting them during this difficult time.

Resources for Victims

Victim Helplines

The Center for Victims in Pittsburgh is available to assist with the traumatic impact of this crime and offers services such as emotional support, counseling, and long-term therapeutic assistance. The Center may be contacted 24/7 by telephone at 866–644–2882.

VictimConnect Resource CenterVictimConnect is an OVC-funded service that offers confidential assistance to victims of crime. Trained specialists are available to help you locate services in your area, including mental health counseling, legal services, and more. VictimConnect employs both English and Spanish-speaking victim assistance specialists. Following is contact information for this program:

Phone: 855–4–VICTIM (855–484–2846), 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. e.t.
Chat: http://victimconnect.org/get-help/victimconnect-chat, 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. e.t.
Dial 711 and VictimConnect staff can provide services through an interpreter in more than
200 languages, and to hearing- and speech-impaired individuals.

Disaster Distress Helpline - Phone 1-800-985-5990 Text: "TalkWithUs" to 66746 The Disaster Distress Helpline, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is a national hotline dedicated to providing year-round disaster crisis counseling. This toll free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone 800–985–5990 (for Spanish, press 2) and SMS (text 'TalkWithUs', or for Spanish, text 'Hablanos', to 66746) to residents in the U.S. and its territories who are experiencing emotional distress related to natural or man-made disasters.

Victim Compensation

The Pennsylvania Victims Compensation Assistance Program, partially funded through the OVC-administered Crime Victims Fund, may help victims offset the financial burden of funeral, mental health, medical, and other expenses related to the shooting. Following is contact information for this program:

Pennsylvania Victims Compensation Assistance Program
P.O. Box 1167
Harrisburg, PA  17108–1167
Phone: 717–783–5153
Toll Free: 800–233–2339
Fax: 717–787–4306

To file a victim compensation claim online, visit https://www.dave.pa.gov/Public/VictimLogin.aspx or download the compensation claim form at https://pcv.pccd.pa.gov/available-services/Documents/Victims%20Compensation%20Assistance%20Program%20Short%20Form%20(2).pdf.

Resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides a series of resources that may assist parents, school personnel, pediatric care providers, and others when speaking with youth and teens, including:

The NCTSN also has resources for responders on Psychological First Aid (PFA). PFA is an early intervention to support children, adolescents, adults, and families impacted by these types of events.

Additional resources that may also be of assistance in the aftermath of this crime

U.S. Department of Justice Hate Crimes Website

    U.S. Department of Justice: Hate Crimes
    This website is a centralized portal for the Department’s hate crimes resources for victims of crime, law enforcement, media, researchers, advocacy groups, and other related organizations and individuals.

Resources for Victim Service Providers, Law Enforcement, and First Responders

    The following publications may be of assistance to service providers in the aftermath of this crime

    Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program
    This brochure describes OVC's Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program, which provides federal funds to support crisis response, consequence management, criminal justice support, crime victim compensation, and training and technical assistance during crisis aftermath.

    Compensation Protocol: A Guide to Responding to Mass Casualty Incidents
    The product of the OVC-funded Mass Casualty Protocol project, this manual examines the role of victim compensation programs during a mass casualty incident and describes a strategy for serving victims, survivors, allied victim professionals, and compensation program staff.

    Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event
    This online article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes the importance of responder self-care and presents steps responders can take before, during, and after deployment to manage stress and avoid burnout and secondary traumatic stress.

    Effects of Traumatic Stress After Mass Violence, Terror, or Disaster
    This online article from the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) describes the emotional, cognitive, physical, and interpersonal reactions that disaster survivors may experience. The article also presents information on risk and protective factors in disaster survivors.

    Faith-based Communities and Spiritual Leaders
    This collection of resources provides help to communities of faith and spiritual leaders to support survivors of natural and human-caused disasters. It features faith-based organizations involved in disaster response, resources that highlight the role faith leaders can play in helping communities recover after disasters, and information about working with children and other special populations after disasters.

    Faith Communities and the Disaster Distress Helpline
    This tip sheet provides religious leaders with information on SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline, which offers 24-hour, year-round crisis counseling for individuals and families experiencing emotional distress because of disasters. The tip sheet explains who answers the Disaster Distress Helpline, what happens when someone calls or texts the helpline, and what services are available. The tip sheet also notes when the helpline should be used as a referral.

    Faith Communities and Disaster Mental Health
    This tip sheet provides information for religious leaders about common stress reactions people may experience in response to a disaster and suggests ways they can cope, and help others cope, with disaster stress reactions. The sheet also provides information on referring people for mental health services.

    Field Manual for Mental Health and Human Service Workers in Major Disasters
    This Field Manual is intended for mental health workers and other human service providers who assist survivors following a disaster. This pocket reference provides the basics of disaster mental health, with numerous specific and practical suggestions for workers.

    Essential information about disaster survivors' reactions and needs is included. "Helping" skills are described with guidance for when to refer for professional assistance. Strategies for worker stress prevention and management are presented in the last section.

    Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Rescue Workers Can Do
    This booklet describes what rescue workers can do to help children and adolescents cope with violence and disasters.

    Helping Victims of Mass Violence and Terrorism: Planning, Response, Recovery, and Resources
    Helping Victims of Mass Violence and Terrorism: Planning, Response, Recovery, and Resources This toolkit is designed to help communities prepare for and respond to victims of mass violence and terrorism in the most timely, effective, and compassionate manner possible. This toolkit provides communities with the framework, strategies, and resources to:

    • Develop a comprehensive victim assistance plan for responding to incidents of mass violence, terrorism, natural disasters, and high-profile criminal incidents.
    • Bring key partners together to review existing emergency plans, and to initiate or continue the development of a victim assistance plan within a community.
    • Establish victim assistance protocols, which can greatly enhance the effectiveness of response and recovery efforts.
    • Follow protocols for short- and long-term responses to victims following incidents of mass violence.

    Incidents of Mass Violence
    The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline supports survivors, family members, responders, and recovery workers who are affected by incidents of mass violence and other disasters. Information on this webpage includes a list of signs of emotional distress related to incidents of mass violence, details of lockdown notices and other warnings, and additional resources for coping.

    Mass Violence/Community Violence
    This resource collection provides information about common reactions to incidents of mass violence, community violence, and terrorism; tips for coping with such incidents; ways to support children and youth in coping; signs of the need for professional behavioral health assistance; and tips for enhancing resilience.

    Media Coverage of Traumatic Events: Research on Effects
    This article discusses the potential impact of viewing news coverage of mass violence and terrorism on adults and children. It concludes with tips on how to address stress symptoms caused by viewing traumatic events.

    Mental Health Response to Mass Violence and Terrorism: A Field Guide Mental Health Response to Mass Violence and Terrorism: A Field Guide
    This guide is intended for service providers and professionals in the mental health field providing the basics in responding to and assisting victims and families during the aftermath of mass violence and terrorism.

    Preparing for the Unimaginable: How chiefs can safeguard officer mental health before and after mass casualty events
    This guide highlights the importance of law enforcement mental health and offers police chiefs with lessons learned from jurisdictions that have experienced mass casualty events. The guide was produced by the National Alliance on Mental Illness with funding support from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

    Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide
    Developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the National Center for PTSD, Psychological First Aid is an evidence-informed approach for assisting survivors of disaster and terrorism.

    Psychological First Aid: Spiritual Leader and Practitioners
    This tip sheet discusses the importance and benefits of Psychological First Aid (PFA) in faith-based communities and how to reach out to those who need help and provide them with comfort and care. PFA is an approach that the general public can use to assist others immediately after a disaster. The tip sheet discusses how to recognize basic needs, support problem-solving, validate survivors’ feelings and thoughts, help survivors connect with support systems, educate survivors about stress responses, and reinforce strengths and positive coping strategies.

    Substance Use Disorders and Disasters
    This section of the SAMHSA website provides resources on the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders as part of disaster planning, response, and recovery. It includes tip sheets, guides, and other resources that can be used to help people with substance use disorders to cope with and recover from disaster events.

    Terrorist Attacks and Children
    This article provides information on how children respond to terrorism and presents steps that professionals and parents can take to help children cope with acts of terrorism.

    Tips for First Responders, 3rd Edition (supporting victims with disabilities)
    This booklet offers tips that first responders can use during emergencies to support and communicate with people with disabilities. The booklet is divided into sections that focus on older adults and on people with service animals, mobility impairments, autism, multiple chemical sensitivities, cognitive disabilities, and hearing or visual impairments.

    The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit
    Research shows that vicarious trauma, when left unaddressed, can lead to staff burnout, turnover, stress, and a lesser quality of services for victims. This OVC toolkit offers guidance to help organizations strengthen their ability to address work-related exposure to trauma.

    The toolkit contains a state-of-the-art repository with nearly 500 resources for the fields of victim services, emergency medical services, fire services, law enforcement, and other allied professionals.

    For more information and resources, you may be interested in reviewing the following OVC topical pages: