Office for Victims of Crime - Justice for Victims. Justice for All
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Providers/Community Leaders

Domestic Terrorism and Mass Violence

In the aftermath of an act of terrorism or mass violence, you may find yourself providing assistance to victims and their families. OVC wants to equip you with tools and programs that may help you respond effectively to these victims.


Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP)
Through AEAP, OVC supports victims and jurisdictions that have experienced incidents of terrorism or mass violence.

AEAP is designed to supplement the available resources and services of entities responding to acts of terrorism or mass violence in order to ensure that a program’s resources are sufficient and/or not diverted to these victims to the detriment of other crime victims.

For further details on who is eligible to apply for this assistance, what expenses it covers, and other information about the program, visit the AEAP website.

Crime Victim Assistance Emergency Fund for Victims of Terrorism or Mass Violence
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is uniquely suited to provide emergency assistance to victims of domestic terrorism and mass violence because of its national scope and extensive experience in responding to more than 13,000 victims of these crimes. For example, the FBI has provided support and emergency fund assistance following both federal and nonfederal mass casualty crimes, including—but not limited to—the shootings at the Red Lakes Indian Reservation in MN, Virginia Tech University, Fort Hood, TX, and the American Civic Association in Binghamton, NY, as well as in Tucson, AZ, a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Visit the FBI’s Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) Web page for more information about the Federal and Special Jurisdictions Program, including the type of information, guidance, and support they provide to state and local agencies affected by mass casualty incidents.

On the morning of April 3, 2009, a lone shooter, Jiverly Voong, entered the American Civic Association building in Binghamton, New York, and murdered 14 people, physically injured 4 others, and subjected 40 individuals to unlawful imprisonment. Immediately following the incident, OVC, together with the New York State Crime Victims Board and through FEI Behavioral, activated the Family Assistance Call Center, opening domestic and international toll-free telephone lines to assist victims and their families in the aftermath of this tragedy.

Family Assistance Call Center
OVC maintains the Family Assistance Call Center, a toll-free telephone line to assist victims and their families by providing referrals to crime victim services, such as crisis counseling. In the immediate aftermath of an act of terrorism or mass violence, the OVC Director, has the authority to activate the call center when an impacted jurisdiction requests assistance. The call center can be activated for service within 1 to 4 hours after an incident occurs. If your jurisdiction has experienced a terrorist or mass violence event, you may reach out to OVC to discuss the activation of this call center by calling 202–307–5983.

State Victim Assistance and Compensation Programs
All states receive federal funds from OVC to help support local victim assistance and victim compensation programs. In the aftermath of a an act of terrorism or mass violence, state victim assistance programs link victims to direct service providers and victim advocates to help them cope in the aftermath of the tragedy. Victims also may be eligible to apply for crime victim compensation benefits, including reimbursement for medical services, mental health counseling, lost wages, and other costs incurred as a result of the crime. Victim compensation benefits are governed by the applicable state statutes, so eligibility may vary among states. Visit OVC’s list of state victim assistance and compensation programs to find the programs in your area so you can refer victims to them. Click on the state and then locate the victim assistance programs and their contact information under the "VOCA State Contacts" tab.

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Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center
The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University–San Marcos addresses the need for active shooter response training for first responders. In addition to in-depth after-action lessons learned through partnerships with agencies that have been involved in active shooter situations, ALERRT has engaged a criminal justice research professor to evaluate and enhance the overall understanding of active shooter events and assist in improving law enforcement’s response to these incidents by instituting best practices. The ALERRT Center has developed and currently delivers seven grant-funded first-responder courses throughout the Nation. These scenario-based training courses are taught by ALERRT staff who are adjunct instructors and experts in active shooter responses.

GAINS Center: Trauma Training for Criminal Justice Professionals
The GAINS Center, a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), offers training that helps educate criminal justice professionals about the impact of trauma and how to develop trauma-informed responses.

To locate a trauma-informed trainer in your area, use the SAMHSA’s GAINS Center Trauma-Informed Response Trainer database or contact the GAINS Center directly about holding a training.

International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc.
International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc., provides leadership, education, training, consultation, and support services in comprehensive crisis intervention and behavioral health services during disasters.

National Center for Trauma Informed Care
Operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Center for Trauma Informed Care provides training for policy makers, administrators, staff, leaders, other stakeholders in order to implement trauma-informed approaches in a range of service systems, including mental health, criminal justice and victim assistance.

National Training and Technical Assistance Center
The Bureau of Justice Assistance National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) works with all levels of government to help prevent, disrupt, and defeat terrorist acts before they occur. NTTAC also recognizes that it is the job of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to bring terrorists to justice and that every citizen can play a vital role in preventing terrorism. NTTAC supports a variety of counter-terrorism training and technical assistance resources for law enforcement and other criminal justice practitioners. Knowing what educational outlets exist and where to turn for technical assistance can help agencies prepare for and respond to a terrorist incident. NTTAC’s training topics include cyber-terrorism and computer technology, environmental protection, and victim assistance.

OVC Mass Violence and Emergency Training Webinar Series
In January 2012, OVC hosted the Mass Violence and Emergency National Training Conference, "Improving Readiness to Assist Victims," which focused on the importance of cooperation and collaboration between federal, state, tribal, and local agencies. For more information, check out the presentations from the conference. Following the conference, Fox Valley Technical College, with funding from OVC, developed a webinar series to enhance skills, share strategies and techniques, create best practices to improve planning, and gain an understanding of the long-term effects on communities impacted by mass violence. The webinars included such topics as—

  • Considerations for Constructing a Family Resource Center Before a Tragedy Happens
  • Guidance for Safety and Survival in Group, Crowd, and Mob Situations
  • Properly Utilizing the Media During an Event
  • Posttraumatic Impacts in Communities Following a Crisis

OVC Training and Technical Assistance CenterOVC TTAC
OVC TTAC provides comprehensive training, technical assistance, and other support to assist the victim services field in building its collective capacity to serve crime victims.

In June 2016, OVC TTAC presented seven multimedia web trainings to introduce the Helping Victims of Mass Violence and Terrorism: Planning, Response, Recovery, and Resources Toolkit. View this web training series summary report (PDF 144 kb) to learn more and view the recorded trainings.

Visit the OVC TTAC website and explore additional ways they can support you.

State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program
The State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) Program, funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, provides specialized multiagency anti-terrorism detection, investigation, and interdiction training and related services to state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecution authorities.

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Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators
This toolkit was developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to provide school administrators, teachers, staff, and concerned parents with basic information about working with traumatized children in the school system.

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 Disaster: Helping Children with Cognitive Disabilities
This article provides information on children dealing with disaster, in general and by age, and offers strategies to use with children with disabilities.

Federal Family Assistance Plan for Aviation Disasters
This plan, designed to provide guidance when assigning responsibilities, describes how air carriers and federal agencies should respond to an aviation accident involving a significant number of passenger fatalities and/or injuries. Organizations given legal authority or responsibility should develop procedures specific to their role.

Field Manual for Mental Health and Human Service Workers in Major Disasters
This pocket-size reference manual is for mental health workers and other human service providers who assist survivors following a disaster. It describes the basic mental health services that are needed after a disaster and provides numerous specific and practical suggestions for workers. It includes essential information about survivors’ reactions to a disaster and the types of assistance they need as well as the necessary "helping skills” and guidance on when to refer survivors for professional assistance. The last section presents strategies for preventing and managing workers’ stress.

Fostering Resilience in Response to Terrorism: For Psychologists Working With Older Adults
This fact sheet describes the continuum of emotional responses that older adults may exhibit following an act of terrorism, including resilience and vulnerability.

Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Community Members Can Do
This booklet describes what community members can do to help children and adolescents cope with violence and disasters.

Helping Children and Adolescents Deal With Grief
This fact sheet provides information for responding to children and adolescents who are grieving after the death of a loved one. It describes children’s understanding of death, how they grieve, and the emotions children commonly experience as well as tips for beginning and continuing conversations with children about death, and a bibliography of children’s books on dealing with grief.

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 Survivors in the Wake of Disaster
This fact sheet provides concise information for volunteers, mental health clinicians, chaplains, and medical personnel on the effects of traumatic stress as well as recommendations for helping survivors of disasters.

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.

Mental Health Reactions After Disaster
This fact sheet presents an overview of common reactions and severe stress responses to disaster, including PTSD.

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

National Association of School Psychologists
The National Association of School Psychologists provides school safety and crisis resources to help children and youth who are coping with traumatic events, including—

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

Responding to Victims of Terrorism and Mass Violence Crimes: Coordination and Collaboration Between American Red Cross Workers and Crime Victim Service Providers
This booklet, jointly published by OVC and the American Red Cross, provides information on how Red Cross staff and volunteers can better assist victims of terrorism and mass violence crimes. It focuses on victims’ rights and needs, OVC resources, victim compensation and assistance, and key differences between the needs of victims of crime and victims of natural disasters.

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.

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.

For more information about responses to mass violence, provided by OVC and the FBI’s Office for Victim Assistance, read the July 2011 issue of OVC News & Program Updates.

Additional resources are available from the following OVC topical pages—

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