Reducing Risks & Supporting Volunteers

The Peace Corps is firmly committed to reducing risks for Volunteers and responding effectively and compassionately to those who are victims of crime, including sexual assault. We strive to have a Volunteer-centered approach every step of the way.

The Peace Corps’ Sexual Assault Risk-Reduction and Response Program was launched in 2013, reflecting years of intense focus on improving support for Peace Corps Volunteers agencywide. There are several major components of the program, with some highlighted here:

Office of Victim Advocacy

Volunteers who are the victim of a crime have access to professional victim advocates 24 hours a day at 202.409.2704 or

Extensive training

The Peace Corps provides sexual assault risk-reduction and response training to both Volunteers and staff. Volunteers worldwide learn risk-reduction strategies such as bystander intervention training, and each post has two sexual assault response liaisons trained to directly assist Volunteers who are victims of sexual assault throughout the in-country response process.

Anonymous hotline

The Peace Corps provides an around the clock, anonymous sexual assault hotline accessible to Volunteers by phone, text, or online chat that is staffed by external crisis counselors at

  • Call from outside the U.S.: 001.408.844.HELP (4357)
  • From within the U.S.: 408.844.HELP (4357)

Reporting options

Volunteers who experience sexual assault have the option to report the incident as restricted or a standard. 

Restricted reporting limits the number of staff members with access to information about an assault to only those involved in providing support services requested by the Volunteer. This gives Volunteers access to critical support services while protecting their privacy and confidentiality, and allows the Peace Corps to provide support services to Volunteers who otherwise may not seek support. 

Standard reporting provides Volunteers with the same support services along with the opportunity to initiate an official investigation, while maintaining confidentiality. 

Whistleblower protection

All staff are trained on how to respond appropriately when Volunteers bring allegations of wrongdoing to their attention. Peace Corps staff members must take appropriate measures to ensure Volunteers’ safety and confidentiality, and ensure all allegations are given serious consideration, including referral to the Office of the Inspector General as appropriate. Retaliation of any kind against Volunteers is expressly forbidden. 

Outside expertise

The independent Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council is comprised of subject-matter experts and former Volunteers. The council reviews Peace Corps policies and procedures to ensure they incorporate best practices and provides a thorough evaluation of the agency’s work. See Sexual Assault Advisory Council 2015 Report [PDF].

Learn more about agency reforms.

As a woman, a mother, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and a sexual assault survivor myself, there is nothing more important to me than the health and safety of our Peace Corps Volunteers. As the Peace Corps Director, I have devoted myself and our agency to providing Volunteers with the most compassionate and effective training, care and support possible, so they can remain healthy, safe, and productive throughout their service and beyond.

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet