Victims of Crime

The State Department is committed to assisting U.S. citizens who become victims of crime while abroad.  We help in two ways:

  • Overseas: consular officers, agents, and staff work with crime victims and help them with the local police and medical systems.
  • In the United States: our office of Overseas Citizens Services will stay in touch with family members in the United States, and help provide U.S.-based resources for the victim when possible.

If you are the victim of a crime overseas:

  • Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate:
    • Consular officers are available for emergency assistance 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
    • Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas can be found by going to our individual Country Specific Information pages.
    • To contact the Department of State in the U.S. call 1-888-407-4747 (from the U.S. or Canada) or (202) 501-4444 (from overseas).
    • Contact the local police to report the incident and get immediate help.  Request a copy of the police report.

Consular Assistance to U.S. Crime Victims:

When a U.S. citizen is the victim of a crime overseas, he or she may suffer from physical, emotional or financial injuries.  It can be more difficult because the victim may be in unfamiliar surroundings, and may not know the local language or customs.  Consular officers, consular agents, and local employees at overseas posts know local government agencies and resources in the country where they work.

We can help:

  • Replace a stolen passport
  • Contact family, friends, or employers
  • Obtain appropriate medical care
  • Address emergency needs that arise as a result of the crime
  • Explain the local criminal justice process
  • Obtain information about your case
  • Connect you to local and U.S.-based resources to assist victims of crime
  • Obtain information about any local and U.S. victim compensation programs available
  • Provide a list of local lawyers who speak English

We cannot:

  • Investigate crimes
  • Provide legal advice or represent you in court
  • Serve as official interpreters or translators
  • Pay legal, medical, or other fees for you

Resources and Information for Crime Victims upon Return to the United States:

Some U.S. cities and communities offer programs to help residents who are victims of overseas crime, including:

  • Rape crisis counseling programs
  • Shelter and counseling programs for battered women
  • Support groups and bereavement counseling for family members and friends of murder victims
  • Diagnostic and treatment programs for child abuse victims
  • Assistance for victims of drunk driving crashes

All U.S. states provide victim compensation programs, however only some states offer benefits to residents who are victims of violent crime overseas.  Most compensation programs require the victim to file a report at the time of the incident, and to provide a copy with the application.  Programs include financial assistance to pay for:

  • Medical costs, including counseling
  • Funeral or burial expenses
  • Lost income or loss of support
  • Expenses related to the repatriation of remains

Information about each state’s compensation program and how to apply for benefits is available from the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.

Contact Information for Victim Assistance Programs:

DISCLAIMER:  The U.S. Department of State assumes no responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the organizations whose names appear below.  This referral does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of the U.S. Department of State.

Sexual Assault: 

  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) – Toll-free 24/7 hotline for sexual assault counseling and referrals: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).  RAINN also offers a hotline that provides live, secure, anonymous crisis support for victims of sexual violence, their friends, and familiies over RAINN’s website.  The Online Hotline is free of charge and is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week!
  • U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women – Information about local sexual assault victim assistance coalitions.
  • International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies – Global list of abuse hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centers and women’s organizations, plus domestic violence information in over 90 languages.
    •  NOTE: The agencies and organizations listed on this international directory have not been vetted by the U.S. Department of State or other federal agency.

Domestic Violence:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline – Toll-free 24/7 hotline for crisis counseling and referrals: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women – Information about local domestic violence victim assistance coalitions.
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers a safe home and shelter programs, public education, and technical assistance.  They also have a list of state and international organizations that can assist domeestic violence victims.  303-839-1852
  • Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center – The center serves abused Americans, mostly women and children, in both civilian and military populations overseas. The 24/7 international crisis hotline 1-866-USWOMEN (1-866-879-6636) can be called toll free from overseas.
  • International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies – Global list of abuse hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centers and women’s organizations, plus domestic violence information in over 90 languages.
    • NOTE: The agencies and organizations listed on this international directory have not been vetted by the U.S. Department of State or other federal agency.

Families and Friends of Murder Victims:

Victims and Families of Drunk Driving Crashes:

General Victim Assistance:

Overseas Resources:

  • Victim Assistance On-line – Information about victim assistance programs in approximately 20 countries.
  • International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies – Global list of abuse hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centers and women’s organizations, plus domestic violence information in over 90 languages.
    • NOTE: The agencies and organizations listed on this international directory have not been vetted by the U.S. Department of State or other federal agency.

Reporting Crimes (PDF 149 KB)

American citizens who are victims or witnesses of a crime are encouraged to report crimes to the police by telephoning.

American crime victims are also strongly encouraged to report all criminal incidents to the Consular Section by calling 232 76 515 000.

Assistance from the U.S. Consular Section (PDF 149 KB)

A Consular Officer can also provide the following assistance for victims of violent crime:

  • Assess and address safety issues and immediate emergency medical and physical needs of the victim in coordination with local authorities. Consular officers can assist with immediate basic needs, such as shelter, food and clothing.
  • Identify additional services that can be provided, including referral to specialized victim assistance and compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Keep abreast of the status of the police investigation and request a copy of the police report to provide to the victim.
  • Talk with victims about what happened and help them ventilate their emotions. Listening with great care is a key part of the consular officer’s function.
  • Provide victims with information about what will happen next.  Help victims prepare for and regain control of their lives.

Thousands of American citizens travel to Sierra Leone each year and most experience an enriching and incident-free trip.  However, some unexpected crime and inconveniences do befall some American citizens visiting Sierra Leone.