Sexual Abuse and Violence FAQ

Author:
Peter Garsden
Solicitor, Head of Abuse Claims
Date:
31/01/2019

Our specialist Abuse Claims Solicitors are often asked lots of questions about sexual abuse and violence. In this article, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions that we hear.

For free legal advice call 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Q. I’ve waited many years to do something about the abuse I experienced, because I thought no one would believe me. Can I do something now? If so, what?

A. If you’re the victim of abuse, no matter how old you are, the law will give you special protection because you’ll be regarded as a vulnerable adult. If you go to Court, you should be able to ask for special measures such as giving evidence anonymously, and behind a screen so that you don’t have to see your abuser again.

People who have been abused have often been told that the abuse is their fault and bullied into silence by threats of what may happen if they try to report the abuse. And they’ve often been told that no one will believe them if they do speak up.

However, you do have several legal options:

      • A complaint to the police leading to a possible criminal case against the abuser
      • A civil claim against the abuser or his/her employers for compensation, in conjunction with, hopefully, an apology
      • An application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which is a government body set up to pay compensation to the victims of violent crimes, including abuse
      • In certain circumstances, a right of complaint to a Local Authority or other public authority which can lead to a finding of fault, and/or payment of compensation
      • A right to give evidence to IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) without commitment, and confidentially to the Truth Project.

Q. I was sexually abused 30 years ago. Is it too late to do anything about it?

A. There’s no time limit in England and Wales for the police to prosecute your abuser. The Courts frequently try men who are well past retirement age who have no previous convictions, and put them in prison for offences of child abuse, even though they are frail and elderly.

There has to be enough evidence, however, to bring before the Courts and prove beyond reasonable doubt that a crime was committed. The longer the passage of time, the more difficult it is to do so.

There are time limits, however, for civil claims for compensation, and it’s sometimes more difficult to bring a claim without a successful criminal prosecution and/or supportive evidence.

Q. Does it make any difference that I’m the only witness?

A. Whilst there are examples of successful abuse cases many years ago where the only witness was the victim of abuse, it’s unusual for either the police or Simpson Millar to take a case on where it is one person’s word against another.

There usually has to be some other supportive evidence such as other victims giving evidence against the same abuser, a written confession, or an investigation at the time of the abuse, which may not have been successfully concluded. There are other examples.

For free legal advice call our Abuse Claims Solicitors

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