A terrorist attack survivors and rescuers guide to helpful resources
After a terrorist attack, the survivors, family members, friends and first responders are often left with serious physical and emotional wounds and may not know where they can turn to receive support. The American Psychological Association (APA) states: “Terrorism threatens a society by instilling fear and helplessness in its citizens. It seeks to hold a society or government hostage by fear of destruction and harm.”
Due to the unpredictable nature of a terrorist attack, it is normal for survivors and witnesses to experience intense emotional distress afterward. These types of disasters disrupt our sense of safety and leave us feeling vulnerable, defenseless, helpless, fearful and confused. Resources are available to people affected by terrorist attacks, many of whom will require additional support and follow-up care to cope with and recover from the tragedy.
Resources available to victims of mass shootings
Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported on the mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, after a married couple opened fire at a holiday party, which resulted in 14 deaths and 22 injuries, and was later determined to be an act of terrorism by the FBI.
For those impacted by the San Bernardino shooting, these programs might be able to help.
- The California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board’s Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) helps survivors and families receive compensation.
- The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office – Bureau of Victim Services provides assistance and financial support to those affected by the shooting.
- The Online Directory of Crime Victim Services is a searchable directory designed to help service providers and individuals locate crime victim services in their area.
A number of resources are available for the victims and families of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado.
- The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has made resources available for compensation, assistance and crisis intervention.
- The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, Department of Public Safety’s Colorado Crime Victim Compensation Program helps victims with up to $20,000 of out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance or up to $1,000 in emergency funds directly related to the crime as financial compensation.
- In addition to the state services provided in California and Colorado related to the mass shootings, the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may also provide victims of terrorist attacks with tax relief.
When an act of terrorism occurs while a citizen is outside the U.S., the International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program (ITVERP) is a federal program that provides financial reimbursement for qualifying expenses to those who are affected by a direct physical or emotional injury due to an act of international terrorism.
Crisis counseling and emotional support
Immediately following a terrorist attack, crisis counseling is available for those experiencing emotional distress.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides crisis counseling and support services to people with emotional distress occurring before, during and after disasters such as terrorist attacks.
- SAMHSA’s National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) also provides information and materials for improving families’ access to care, treatment and services for traumatized children or adolescents who have been exposed to traumatic events.
- The Association for Death Education and Counseling at the Thanatology Association provides online resources, information and ways to receive support when one is the victim of a natural disaster, terrorism and war.
- 2-1-1 is a free and confidential service that can help find local services and support groups for survivors, family members, friends and first responders affected by acts of terrorism.
Those who have difficulty coping with intense emotional reactions in response to a traumatic event may benefit from seeking professional help. The Sovereign Health Group provides individualized, evidence-based treatments for substance abuse, mental health and co-occurring disorders. If you or a loved one is a survivor of or first responder to a terrorist attack, or you would like more information on our treatment programs, please contact our 24/7 helpline.
Written by Amanda Habermann, M.S. clinical psychology, Sovereign Health Group writer
For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.