Once again the Church of England is suffering the discomfort of more public spotlight following the airing of ‘Exposed: The Church’s Dark Secret’ on BBC 2 this week. The documentary details the former Bishop of Lewes’s predatory behaviour towards young, vulnerable boys and men, most of whom had joined his religious Order, and the church’s wholly negligence response to numerous complaints about him over many years.
The recent storyline in Emmerdale of a female teacher grooming and then sexually abusing a teenage boy throws light on cultural perceptions of women paedophiles, and how these differ from perceptions of male perpetrators of sexual offences against children.
Image based sexual abuse is the non consensual making and / or sharing of nude or intimate private photographs or videos.
Social media outlets make easy platforms for exploitation, whether it be in the form of:
While the death of an abuser can create significant hurdles when considering legal options, a case our client has recently won demonstrates that pursuing justice in the form of a civil compensation claim is not always out of the question.
For anyone who has suffered sexual abuse it may take years before they have the courage to come forward to speak of the abuse to their friends and family or even the police.
You may feel deeply embarrassed and ashamed to discuss what happened to you.
Elton John’s classic ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’ is none more true in the ambit of sexual assault compensation claims than in any other context.
In representing victims and survivors of sexual assault, whether abused as children or sexually assaulted in adult life, I hear time and time again, the request for an apology. Often it is the refusal or the withholding of an apology that causes a victim or survivor to instigate a legal claim against those accountable. A lot of money could be saved by those on the receiving end of compensation claims arising from sexual assault, if only the relevant person or organisation had done the decent thing and offered a heartfelt apology in the first instance.
Where do I start?
You need to speak to a specialist solicitor. You may feel hesitant or embarrassed to discuss your claim but if you have decided to speak to a specialist firm, you will be dealt with with great sensitivity, and should be afforded the highest level of care, attention and confidentiality.
Grooming is often the precursor to sexual abuse. It is also one of the common features of the most serious and protracted sexual abuse.
The perpetrator goes to great lengths to gain the trust, confidence and emotional ‘buy in’ of a victim (and their family) such that they are able to manipulate them, blackmail and brainwash them into believing that either the abuse is tolerable, indeed acceptable, or that they have no power or authority to resist it.
The scale of child sexual exploitation (CSE) cases up and down the country is now well documented and deeply shocking.
We are all familiar with the grooming scandals of largely white vulnerable girls by gangs of mainly Asian men.
Editor's note: This post was originally written in 2017 and has since been refreshed for relevance and accuracy.
The age of consent for sex
In England and Wales the age of sexual consent is 16 for both men and women. The age of consent is the same regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of a person and whether the sexual activity is between people of the same or different gender.