Speaking out for the first time about childhood sexual abuse is hard enough. And when you feel compelled to do something about it, it may be difficult to know where to start. If you believe you may be entitled to compensation for child abuse, then you will want to know what your options are and where to start.
Childhood sexual abuse is not limited to any single community, class or culture. Abuse can remain buried for many years, and often leaves lifelong scars. It may be hard for victims of abuse to sustain meaningful relationships or to hold down jobs, and they may be left with mental health issues. Memories of childhood sexual abuse can also be triggered by a life event such as the death of a parent, or media coverage of a story that is similar to their own experience.
It is not at all uncommon for survivors of abuse to not disclose their abuse until well into their adult life. The perpetrator may have been a family member, or someone in authority such as a vicar, teacher, Scout leader or sports coach. An abuser may also have groomed their victim to such an extent that to speak out against them, even some years later, is very difficult. Feelings of guilt, shame and fear may also stop people from coming forward. Pursuing a civil compensation claim is about making the transition from 'victim' to 'survivor'. It offers the victim the opportunity to take control of the effects of abuse and over the abuser, which can be hugely empowering.
If you have been sexually abused in childhood and if the perpetrator of your abuse is still alive, they should be reported to the police. Professionals such as ISVAs (Independent Sexual Violence Advisors) can support you both during a police investigation and after the prosecution of your abuser. If your abuser is convicted, you are in a strong position to mount a compensation claim. If your abuser is dead or was not successfully prosecuted, then depending on the particular facts of your case, a compensation claim can still be considered.
You may have options as to who you can claim compensation for child abuse from. You can bring a legal action against the person who abused you personally, or their employer or the organisation for which they were working at the time. The choice of who you pursue case is determined by a number of factors, including whether your abuser is deceased, whether criminal proceedings have been brought against them, or whether any potential defendant has assets or insurance.
It may be possible to bring a legal claim against the perpetrator’s employers at the time of the abuse, even if the perpetrator is not working for them anymore. If your abuser was a volunteer, such as a Scout leader or sports referee or coach, their ‘employer’ can generally be held responsible.
The perpetrator’s employers can only be held accountable for the employee’s abuse if their actions were closely connected to the duties of their employment. The definition of ‘employee’ is wide and includes volunteers, so long as it can be said that the volunteer is carrying out the purpose of their employer’s enterprise.
Examples of organisations that can be pursued include:
Most employers and organisations have insurance which means that if you are successful, compensation will be paid by their insurance company.
Our specialist team can advise you and provide you with a clear way forward, representing you in your legal claim, and advocating on your behalf. We have considerable experience in helping survivors launch and win compensation claims arising from sexual abuse and sexual assaults.
Alongside seeking proper compensation for you, we can make every effort to secure an apology if you want one.
At a free informal initial consultation, which can be held either over the telephone or in person, we will discuss the circumstances surrounding your abuse and answer any questions you may have. We can advise you as to whether in our opinion, we believe you have a claim with reasonable prospects of success.