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Can I Get Compensation for Historic Abuse?

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Nathalie Swanwick

Abuse Claims Solicitor

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If you were abused as a child and have since become an adult, you might still be able to claim compensation for the abuse.

There are three different ways that you might be able to get compensation:

Suing the Abuser for Historic Abuse

You may be able to get compensation for child abuse by suing the person who has abused you. If you are a child or a young person under 18, you can sue your abuser, but an adult (known as litigation friend) has to start this action on your behalf. The burden of proof to sue an abuser would be less in a civil case compared to a criminal case.

In a criminal case where the accused has pled not guilty, a jury must find that they are guilty of the crimes that they have been accused of beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard which is deliberately set given that someone’s liberty is at stake.

In a civil case, if you want compensation for the harm you've suffered, you have to prove your case on the balance of probabilities. Unlike criminal cases, where guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, in a civil case, you need to show it’s more likely than not that the person you’re suing is responsible for the harm. Usually, a judge, not a jury, decides the outcome in civil cases.

You could also apply for a Court Order to prevent the abuser from assaulting or interfering with you in the future. This may help you in feeling more protected throughout the claims process and in the future.

Possible Outcomes with Court Action

  • This Court action could result in an Order for compensation. However, if the abuser doesn’t have money, they won’t be able to give you the compensation ordered by the Court. 
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Suing an Organisation

An alternative option would be to consider suing an organisation if they failed in their duty of care towards you. This could be any organisation that has a connection to your abuser in some way.

For example, if you were in a care home run by the local authority at the time of the abuse, you may be able to sue the local authority if they failed in their duty of care towards you. It may be that you reported the abuse but the allegations weren’t taken seriously or perhaps the abuse took place at the hands of an employee who wasn’t properly vetted before being hired. 

Every case will be different but if there is a possibility that an organisation is responsible in some way for the abuse that you experienced, raising legal proceedings against them may be a viable option to help you to obtain the compensation that you are entitled to and that you deserve.


Compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is more commonly referred to as the CICA. They administer a Scheme known as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme which is designed to compensate victims of violent crime in Great Britain. The organisation is run by the government who assess if applicants are eligible and then assess the appropriate value of any award.

It is recognised by the CICA that no amount of compensation can ever make up for the harm and suffering caused to a person through violent crime, however their injury awards are intended to be an acknowledgement of the harm and suffering that was sustained in addition to being a gesture of public sympathy.

Importantly, the abuser doesn’t have to have been convicted of, or even charged with the crime for you to be able to obtain compensation through CICA. You may be eligible for compensation through the CICA if you have been the victim of a physical or sexual assault.

An application must normally be made within two years of the incident. However, in exceptional cases, this time limit can be extended. An example of this may be  if you’re making a claim for abuse you suffered as a child. In these cases, the CICA may look at records from the past that the Local Authority has about your case, especially if you didn’t report the abuse to the police at the time.

The details of the crime and injuries that must be entered on the claim form are very important and if you’re making a claim, it’s best to obtain specialist legal advice from an Abuse Claims Solicitor who can assist you with this.

Time Limits for Historic Childhood Abuse

There are time limits for bringing a civil claim and in certain circumstances you can bring a claim out of time. We will be able advise you about this in more detail during our initial call.

Our expert team will be able to help to assess whether you are still able to make a claim arising from historical abuse as this will vary from case to case and very much depend on the individual circumstances in each case. Once you contact us, we will assess this and let you know if we’re able to proceed with a claim on your behalf, if you still wish to do so.

What if I Lived with My Abuser?

Many victims of historic child abuse may be put off claiming compensation because of the “same roof rule”. This meant that they couldn’t claim compensation from the CICA if the criminal injury was sustained before 1st October 1979, and the victim and the abuser were living together as members of the same family when the child abuse took place.

However, this controversial rule has since been abolished in recognition of the fact that victims of historic child abuse may have had no choice as to where and who they lived with as a child. This cleared the way for people who had previously been denied compensation to make a fresh application to the CICA..

What If I Know Someone Who Was Abused?

As awareness grows around historical abuse, supporting friends or family members who have been through such a traumatic experience is incredibly important. Knowing how to provide compassionate supportcan make a significant difference in their journey toward healing and justice.

Although you can never take that experience away from your loved one, there are some things that you can do to support them going forward. Some of these things may include:

  • Believing them and validating their experience – you should always reassure a survivor of abuse that you believe them without judgement and that they are not alone. You can acknowledge their courage and bravery in sharing their experience with you.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help and support – this may include things such as, but not limited to, therapy or counselling which could help in recovering from the emotional aftermath of abuse. Trained professionals can offer specialised guidance, creating a safe space for survivors to express their feelings and work through the trauma that they have experienced.
  • Respect their decision regarding potential legal action and understand that legal action is a personal choice. Survivors of abuse may need time to decide whether to pursue legal action and that’s okay.
  • Provide emotional support - offer a listening ear and emotional support without pushing for details. This will allow survivors to share at their own pace and comfort level. Express empathy and avoid offering unsolicited advice. Sometimes, a supportive presence speaks louder than words.
  • Assist in practical matters – this could include things such as, but not limited to, finding helpful resources, accompanying your loved one to appointments, or helping with day-to-day tasks. These gestures can reduce some of the stress survivors may be experiencing.
  • Respect their boundaries and be mindful of triggering topics. An easy way to do this is simply by asking for your loved one’s consent before discussing sensitive issues and being patient with them.
  • Encouraging your loved one to connect with support networks, whether through survivor groups, advocacy organisations, or online forums.
  • Promote self-care – help your loved one take care of themselves and encourage activities that promote wellbeing. This may include exercise, mindfulness practices, or engaging in hobbies that bring comfort and joy.
  • Be patient and persistent - healing from historical abuse is a process that takes time. Be patient, persistent, and consistently available as a source of support. Understand that unfortunately recovery is not linear.

In supporting friends or family members who have suffered historical abuse, you contribute to their journey of healing and empowerment.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact one of the below organisations for help:

  • Support for Survivors – can be contacted on 0115 962 2722 or by email at [email protected]. Further information can be found on their website at
  • The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) – can be contacted by telephone on 0808 801 0331 or by email at [email protected]. Further resources are available on their website at 


National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). (n.d.). Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Support for Survivors. (n.d.). Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

GOV.UK. (n.d.). "Criminal Injuries Compensation: A Guide." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

1.     Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). "Abuse Claims Solicitors." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). "Criminal Injury Compensation Claims." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). "Suing an Individual Abuser." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Nathalie Swanwick

Abuse Claims Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Nathalie began her legal career in 2009 after completing her law degree at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2008. She has specialised in abuse claims since 2010, and went on to qualify as a Solicitor in 2013.

Following her qualification Nathalie specialised in a range of personal injury claims including abuse claims and criminal injury claims. She has acted for clients who have suffered life-changing injuries such as brain injuries.

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