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Victim Assistance Training Online

Five new VAT Online modules have been launched, including Assault, Campus/University Victims of Sexual Assault, Child Abuse, Ethics, and Human Trafficking.

VAT Online is a foundational Web-based victim assistance training program that offers victim service providers and allied professionals the opportunity to acquire the essential skills and knowledge they need to more effectively assist victims of crime. VAT Online has four sections: Basics, Core Competencies and Skills, Crimes, and Specific Considerations for Providing Victim Services. 38 modules are now available. Additional modules will be released in the coming year.

  1. The Basics section includes information that all victim service providers must know, including victims' rights and the justice systems, which provides a foundation for victim services.
  2. The Core Competencies and Skills section includes modules such as basic communication skills, confidentiality, and advocacy.
  3. The Crimes section includes the characteristics and prevalence of crime, and other information about crimes including sexual assault, elder abuse, and child abuse.
  4. The Specific Considerations for Providing Victim Services section includes information and skills to serve populations such as LGBTQ populations, campus/university victims of crime, and victims of sexual assault in the military.

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Watch this video to learn about the modules contained in VAT Online and how to register for the training.

VAT Online has four sections: Basics, Core Competencies and Skills, Crimes, and Specific Considerations for Providing Victim Services. 38 modules are now available. Additional modules will be released in the coming year.


Includes information that all victim service providers must know, including victims' rights and the justice systems, which provides a foundation for victim services.

Expand All
Title Length
1 hour
Provides basic information on how the civil justice system works. If a victim decides to pursue a civil case against an offender, you'll need to understand the civil court system so you can tell the victim what to expect.
1 hour
Provides an overview of the criminal justice process. Some of your most critical responsibilities may involve assisting crime victims through the legal process if an offender is apprehended. The more you understand the criminal justice process, the better you'll be able to support victims as they navigate this complex system.
45 Minutes
Values, ethics, and decisionmaking are critical skills for victim service providers to have because those skills affect the assistance and support provided to victims. Knowing what is appropriate and inappropriate conduct when it comes to helping victims and how to use a decisionmaking process to reach conclusions regarding appropriate conduct will also strengthen the integrity of your organization. In this module, we'll review values and ethical standards, and review a decisionmaking process that can guide you on the job.
1 hour
Includes information about key personnel involved in the military justice system. The module also presents a look at the different steps involved in the military justice process, and compares those processes to the criminal justice system.
45 minutes
Takes a high-level look at the various types of justice used in tribal areas. Tribal justice systems can vary from traditional Western-style systems to tribal courts and traditional courts, including family and community forums.
1 hour
Introduces victim service providers to the various entities that provide assistance to victims of crime. You may be very familiar with the services your organization offers, but by finding out about other types of victim service organizations, you can broaden your network, develop additional referrals, or perhaps enter into partnerships to better serve crime victims.
30 minutes
The Victim Compensation module provides information on the key eligibility requirements needed to qualify for victim compensation funds, and the victim compensation program application process.
45 minutes
Lays the groundwork for victim service providers to know the rights afforded to victims of crime. By becoming familiar with the background and foundations of victims' rights, you may develop a greater appreciation for the efforts that resulted in these rights, and why they are so important.

Core Competencies and Skills

Includes modules such as basic communication skills, confidentiality, and advocacy.

Expand All
Title Length
30 minutes
Examines the critical role of victim service providers in advocating for crime victims. When you know how to advocate for crime victims, you ensure that their voices are heard and they receive the appropriate assistance.
45 minutes
Describes how to accurately determine the services that will help victims in the aftermath of a crime. Conducting a thorough needs assessment helps you identify a victim's specific needs so you can refer the victim to the most appropriate resources.
45 minutes
Provides the essential skills you need to communicate clearly with victims. Effective communication skills not only help you target victims' needs; they also help you establish the kind of rapport that's crucial for reassuring and comforting the victim.
45 minutes
Reviews how to work effectively within your team and organization, and across organizations. No single organization can provide all the resources and services for crime victims, so working through other organizations to obtain this assistance is critical.
1 hour
Describes best practices for maintaining confidentiality. As a victim service provider you deal with sensitive and personal information. Understanding the laws governing a victim's privacy and confidentiality are extremely important in protecting the victims you help.
45 minutes
Introduces you to skills to help you manage conflict effectively and negotiate with others when conflict arises. Conflicts can arise in any situation. You may even experience conflict with a victim you're trying to help. Resolving the conflict by negotiating an outcome that's acceptable to everyone is an important skill for a victim service provider.
30 minutes
Describes how to identify when a crisis has taken place and how to help those who have experienced traumatic situations. Understanding what constitutes a crisis, and knowing how to intervene when one occurs, can make a critical difference to someone who has been victimized.
45 minutes
Covers the skills you need to interact with and assist crime victims from all cultures and backgrounds, and explains why these skills are so important. Crime does not discriminate; victims come from all walks of life. In your work, you must be prepared to help victims who may be very different from you.
45 minutes
Provides information for victim service providers who need to document information about victims of crime. Accurately recording victim data preserves the victim's privacy and confidentiality. And documenting your interactions with victims provides a record of your work and actions that may be useful later.
30 minutes
Presents a structured approach to recognizing and solving problems that arise in your work. Being able to follow the steps of an effective problem-solving process will help you resolve issues quickly, and minimize difficulties when dealing with colleagues and victims of crime.
30 minutes
Provides information on building and maintaining relationships with referral agencies so that you can provide critical referrals to victims of crime. Developing a referral network is absolutely essential for victim service providers. The wider your network of referrals, the more likely you'll be able to find the right kind of assistance for every victim you help.
1 hour
Covers the role of victim service providers in monitoring their own self-care and safety. Because of your work, you are susceptible to vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and other stress-related conditions. To remain effective in your job and helpful to victims, you must know the risk factors for developing these conditions, how to minimize them, and how to take care of yourself if you do experience a stress-related condition.
30 minutes
Covers the impact of trauma on crime victims. Victims react to the psychological trauma of a crime in various ways. In order to ensure they receive the care they need, you must become familiar with the impact of trauma and the concept of trauma-informed care.


Includes the characteristics and prevalence of crime, and other information about crimes including sexual assault, elder abuse, and child abuse.

Expand All
Title Length
45 minutes
There are many different types of assault, and victims of assault range from children to the elderly. This module identifies different types of assault, discusses the difference between assault and battery, and provides strategies for assisting victims of assault.
45 minutes
Victimization by child abuse and neglect presents some of the most difficult and stressful cases faced by service providers and advocates. Child victims are extremely vulnerable, often completely helpless, and often are greatly harmed by their victimizations. We'll explore how child abuse affects children, and how to appropriately respond to children affected by this crime.
45 minutes
The Cyber Fraud module includes information on the common types of Internet scams and resources available for victims of cyber fraud. It also includes information on how criminals use the Internet to defraud victims, common patterns present in cyber and Internet fraud, and strategies for increasing victims' online safety and coping with the emotional impact of the crime.
45 minutes
Provides information about what elder abuse is, and how victims are affected by this crime. It includes issues related to the crime, such as prevalence and victim impact as well as tips and strategies to help victims.
45 minutes
There are many types of financial crimes, and the rapidly changing technologies that benefit consumers are inevitably exploited by criminals. This module explores the common types of financial crimes; common patterns present in financial crimes; how to locate resources for victims of financial crimes, especially mortgage fraud; and how to help victims identify personal strategies for coping with the emotional impact of the crime and preventing revictimization.
45 minutes
Human trafficking is often referred to as modern day slavery. Victims of trafficking are compelled to labor or provide commercial sex services against their will. This module describes human trafficking and discusses how to spot red flags, or indicators, of human trafficking. The module also provides tips for building a comprehensive and trauma-informed referral network to help victims of human trafficking.
45 minutes
Virtually every American adult either knows a victim or is a victim of identity theft. This module includes the definition of identity theft, information on who is at the highest risk of being victimized by identity theft, information about laws that support identity theft victims, and strategies to help victims recover from identity theft.
45 minutes
Intimate partner violence, or IPV, is sometimes known as domestic violence, and it affects millions of persons in the U.S. regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, race, age, religion, education, or economic status. This module will go into detail on how victim service providers can assist victims of intimate partner violence, and how to help victims identify the goals they seek in getting help, and assisting the victim in achieving those goals.
45 minutes
The Sexual Assault module includes information related to sexual assault and sexual violence. It includes definitions of the terms sexual violence and sexual assault; information about the victim service provider's role in relation to others working as part of a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), including differentiating the roles of victim service providers, SART, and other members of the SART; methods to assess the physical and psychological impact of sexual assault; information about the potential impact of sexual assault on various populations; and strategies to respond appropriately to victims of sexual assault.

Specific Considerations for Providing Victim Services

Includes information and skills to serve populations such as LGBTQ populations, campus/university victims of crime, and victims of sexual assault in the military.

Expand All
Title Length
45 minutes
The American Indian/Alaska Native Populations module covers key issues impacting American Indian and Alaska Native victims of crime. It also describes barriers American Indian and Alaska Native victims face when seeking help after being the victims of crime, and provides strategies for serving American Indian and Alaska Native victims.
45 minutes
Campus/University sexual assault is, unfortunately, a serious crime that is widespread across college and university campuses all over the United States. This module provides a definition of campus sexual assault, describes barriers that victims of this crime face when seeing help, discusses laws, such as Title IX, in place to protect victims, and identifies strategies for serving victims of campus sexual assault.
45 minutes
Provides information on elderly victims of crime, also known as adult victims of crime. It includes issues that victims may face, as well as tips and strategies to help victims.
45 minutes
LGBTQ people are in danger of victimization not only because of their race or class, but also because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This module includes information on language, terminology, and concepts commonly used in LGBTQ communities, the differences between gender identity and sexual orientation, a historical and legal perspective of LGBTQ rights and recognition, barriers LGBTQ people face when accessing services, and ways to increase your agency's ability and capacity to effectively serve LGBTQ people.
45 minutes
Provides information on how to help victims with disabilities. It includes issues that victims may face, as well as tips and strategies to help victims.
45 minutes
Provides information on issues specific to the military related to sexual assault. It includes issues that victims may face, specific military procedures to help victims impacted by this crime, as well as tips and strategies to help victims.
30 minutes
Mental illnesses are disorders that can profoundly disrupt a person's thoughts, feelings, moods, ability to relate to others, and capacity for coping with the demands of life. Mental illness can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. This module discusses this population of individuals and the unique considerations to make when helping victims of crime with mental health issues.
45 minutes
Victims of crime who also are substance abusers face a unique set of challenges. This module includes information on the special needs of victims with substance abuse issues, and approaches for working with victims with substance abuse issues.

What is VAT Online?

Victim Assistance Training Online (VAT Online) is a Web-based training funded by the Office for Victims of Crime. The training combines core information and fundamental skills needed by victim service providers to assist victims of crime effectively and sensitively. Additional information is provided to meet the specific needs of identified populations.

What are the goals for VAT Online training?

The goal of VAT Online is to provide a user-friendly training tool that teaches new victim service providers in all types of victim service agencies the basic knowledge and skills they need to respond effectively to crime victims. A secondary goal is to provide the training at a time and place convenient to the learner, which is achieved by the Web-based format.

What topics are included in VAT Online?

VAT Online is currently being revised and updated. 38 modules are now available. Additional modules will be released in the coming year.

How are these topics taught using an online format?

Each module in VAT Online is taught using interactive methodologies, case studies, exercises, and other suggested activities to enhance the user's learning.

Who is the intended audience?

The intended audience is new victim service providers with less than 3 years of experience working with victims of crime. The training also will serve as a refresher course for more experienced victim service providers.

How long does it take to complete VAT Online? Will I have to complete it all in one sitting?

When all 51 modules are revised and available, the entire training is designed to take approximately 40 hours to complete. It does not have to be completed all in one sitting. In fact, it is divided into various modules and sections so that the user can review it at his or her own pace and bookmark the last module reviewed. Each module takes about 30–90 minutes to complete. Learners can complete all 51 planned modules or can complete specific modules, based on their learning needs.

What are the costs associated with this training?

This training is offered free of charge. Since the training is available online, there are no tuition or travel costs associated with taking it.

Who developed VAT Online and how did they decide what topics to include in the training?

This training was funded by the Office for Victims of Crime and developed by OVC TTAC, working closely with a group of nationally known subject matter experts who combine theory with practical expertise. Both OVC staff and the subject matter experts decided on the range of topics to include in the training.

How often is this training going to be updated? Will I have to take this training every few years?

VAT Online will be updated every 2 years so that its content remains current. Your supervisor may request that you review specific modules periodically as a refresher.

What type of computer capability do I need to take VAT Online?

You will need a computer that has Internet access, as VAT Online is an Internet-based, online training. It can be used with a MAC or PC. We recommend using Internet Explorer version 8 or higher. Some features and functionality may not work in the IE 7 browser. We are unable to provide support for Internet Explorer browsers lower than IE 8. Specific hardware/software requirements include:

  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP SP22
  • Processor: 550 MHz or faster (1.2 GHz or faster recommended)
  • 256 MB or greater
  • Sound Card: 16-bit sound card with speakers or headphones
  • Monitor: 1024 x 768 minimum resolution (or higher recommended) with 16-bit color depth
  • Network Connection: High-speed Internet access
  • Supported browsers:
    • Internet Explorer (supported version is 8.0 and above)
    • Mozilla Firefox (supported version is 4.0 and above)
    • Safari on Mac (supported version is 5.0 and above)
    • Google Chrome (all versions)

JavaScript, Active X, and cookies must be enabled; "popup blocker" software must be disabled or programmed to accept popups.

Java (supported version is between 1.5 and 1.6.x.x)

Flash player (supported version is 9.0 and above)

Adobe Reader (supported version is 8.2 and above)

If you are experiencing difficulties accessing the course, please refer to the workstation requirements.

Who can I contact if I have questions or technical problems with accessing or using VAT Online?

You can contact VAT Online technical assistance at or 1-866-682-8822.

Do I need supervisor approval to take the VAT Online training?

Anyone can access the VAT Online training. However, since VAT Online is national in scope, your supervisor can help you apply the information and skills more specifically to your area and your agency, and can help you address your individual career plans.

Can I take VAT Online training during my work hours or do I have to take the training at home?

The program is available 24/7. You can take it from any location where there is a computer with Internet access. If you are using it as part of your on-the-job professional training, you should consult with your supervisor regarding when and where to take the training.

How will my supervisor know when I have completed VAT Online?

You will receive a certificate of completion for each module that you can complete. You can share your certificate(s) with your supervisor.

Is there course accreditation for completing VAT Online?

You will receive a certificate of completion for each module that you complete.

Who can I contact to learn more about VAT Online?

You can contact OVC TTAC at or 1-866-682-8822 to learn more about this offering.

The all-new and fully revised VAT Online is the result of the knowledge and insight of many dedicated professionals within OVC and the Office on Violence Against Women, as well as a collaboration between the VAT Online Workgroup and other subject matter experts from the victim services field. OVC TTAC was honored to work with this celebrated group of nationally known scholars and practitioners whose contributions and guidance were essential in the development of VAT Online.

Members of the VAT Online Workgroup include:

  • Juan Carlos Arean, Director, National Latin@ Network for Health, Families and Communities, Casa de Esperanza
  • Jayne Crisp, Director, Violence Against Women with Disabilities, Safe Harbor
  • Dana DeHart, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, College of Social Work, DeSaussure College, University of South Carolina
  • Julia da Silva, Director, Violence Prevention Office, American Psychological Association
  • Mario Gaboury, J.D., Ph.D., Dean and Professor, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, University of New Haven
  • Karen Ho, Administrator, Office of Victim Services, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
  • Karen Kalergis, (formerly) Associate Director, Education and Communications, Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, University of Texas at Austin
  • Jose Juan (J.J.) Lara, Director, Advocacy and Training, Texas Advocacy Project
  • Diane Payne, Director, Justice for Native Children Project
  • Dan Petersen, Ph.D., Associate Dean, School of Applied Studies, Washburn University

Additional subject matter experts who made significant contributions include:

  • Lindy Aldrich, Esq., Deputy Director, Victim Rights Law Center
  • Dianne Barker Harrold, Program Manager, Unified Solutions Tribal Community Development Group, Inc.
  • Marcella Benson-Quaziena, Ph.D., The Benson-Quaziena Group
  • Meg Garvin, Executive Director, National Crime Victim Law Institute
  • Trudy Gregorie, Senior Director, Justice Solutions
  • Candy Heisler, JD, Consultant and Author, Former DA
  • Frank Henderson, Jr., Deputy Director of the Topeka Rescue Mission, Inc. and Net Reach, Inc., Past-President of the National Association of Crime Victims Compensation Boards
  • B.J. Jones, Tribal Court Judge
  • Stacy Malone, Esq., Executive Director, Victim Rights Law Center
  • Billie Matelevich-Hoang, Esq., Legal Assistance for Crime Victims Team Leader, OVC TTAC
  • Barbara Paradiso, Director, Center on Domestic Violence, University of Colorado Denver
  • Paula Pierce, JD, Attorney, Law Office of Paula Pierce
  • Alyssa Rheingold, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Director of Clinical Operations, National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Medical University of South Carolina
  • Cindy Southworth, Vice President, National Network to End Domestic Violence
  • Sharon Stapel, JD, Executive Director, Anti-Violence Project
  • Debra Whitcomb, Independent Consultant, Area of Expertise: Justice System Response to Child Victim/Witnesses
  • Major Matthew Youngblood, Military Victim Assistance Advisor, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office