A FRIEND ABROAD

TROUBLE ABROAD? YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND

When Claire traveled from San Francisco to Sheffield, England on business, between meetings she enjoyed taking long walks alone down mapped out busy streets to shop and explore. One day on her way back to her hotel, she noticed a conservative but somewhat intense man walking a slight distance behind her. She shrugged it off, eventually entered her hotel lobby and he was gone. The next day, a longer distance from the hotel, she saw the same man again who seemed to be mirroring her pathway. Rather than take detours or sit down at a coffee shop to lose him, she decided to swiftly go straight to the hotel with him quickly closing the gap. Once inside the lobby she turned and he followed her in. There waiting for him with a broad smile was his wife and child.

At the professional or collegiate level, women wrestlers are heavy travelers. It was related in the publication The Forum, The Jamestown Jimmie’s women’s wrestling team, located in North Dakota, travels around 800 miles per road trip. One of the trips to Canada lasted more than 16 hours. If you look on a popular women’s submission wrestling list, you’ll see many of the competitors travel abroad at least once a month.

In Claire’s case, things turned out well, but what if the situation had gone south? What if Claire became a victim of a crime? Even if she contacts the local authorities, who else should she contact?

The U.S. State Department is committed to assisting American citizens who become victims of crime while abroad. If you become the victim of a crime overseas, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy, consulate, or consular agency for assistance. They can help in two major ways. Consular officers, agents, and staff work with crime victims and help them with the local police and medical systems. Their 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.

Information from The State Department website informs us of situations where they can or cannot help.

They 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. resources to assist victims of crime
  •     Obtain information about local and U.S. victim compensation programs
  •     Provide a list of local lawyers who speak English

They 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

Regarding legal issues, here’s what they can do. Should you find yourself in legal difficulty, contact a consular officer immediately. Consular officers cannot serve as attorneys, give legal advice, or get you out of jail. What they can do is provide a list of local attorneys who speak English and who may have had experience in representing U.S. citizens. If you are arrested, consular officials will visit you, advise you of your rights under local laws and ensure that you are held under humane conditions and are treated fairly under local law. A consular officer will contact your family or friends if you desire. When necessary, consuls can transfer money from home for you and will try to get relief for you, including food and clothing in countries where this is a problem. If you are detained, remember that under international treaties and customary international law, you have the right to talk to the U.S. consul. If you are denied this right, be persistent. Try to have someone get in touch for you.

All U.S. states have victim compensation programs, and many offer benefits to residents who are victims of violent crime overseas.  Most 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
  •     Funeral expenses
  •     Lost income or loss of support

The website Articlesbase states the mental health benefit associated with leisure travel creates a sense of social identity and belonging. Leisure travel plays a major and important role in improving social skills in children, especially over a prolonged sense of time. Children of parents who made it a family mantra and duty to introduce them to various locations and destinations are far more likely to go on to be far better socially adjusted adolescents and adults. They tend to be much calmer, more outgoing, feel more secure in various settings, while a child or adult who did not travel, generally feel like a fish out of water in unfamiliar territory.

Whether you are traveling by car with your family and dog to Canada, Mexico or jet setting to Europe, sometimes bad things happen to good people. The vast majority of the time when we travel, great and exciting experiences occur, but if an unfortunate one does instead, as the sensational artist James Taylor so smoothly said, “Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend?”

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Sources: The Forum, US State Department website, Articlesbase.com