Sexual abuse is a traumatic experience. While compensation cannot undo the abuse, it can help victims feel a sense of justice and start to move on with their lives. If you have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an individual or institution, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Many people feel ashamed or embarrassed following sexual abuse and as a result many don’t speak out. Recent high profile cases in the media have resulted in a rise in the number of cases being reported. Sexual abuse is never the victims fault and you should seek the justice entitled to you – for many this includes compensation.
Sexual abuse can happen at any stage of life, whether it was suffered as a child, or ongoing abuse as an adult. Sexual abuse can be a one off occurrence such as rape or a series of repeated abuse over time. If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual abuse, you should report it to the police.
You may feel hesitant or embarrassed to discuss your claim with a solicitor. With Hugh James’s specialist solicitors you can rest assured that your case will be dealt with the highest levels of care, attention and confidentiality.
We cover most of the UK from our offices in London and Cardiff and our team of specialist sexual abuse solicitors can arrange to meet you in your own home or at another location of your choosing to discuss your sexual abuse claim. Our aim is to make you feel safe and help you achieve the justice, treatment and compensation you deserve.
Partner, Alan Collins, leads our team of expert sexual abuse solicitors. Alan has helped many victims secure sexual abuse compensation and is one of the best known solicitors in the field of abuse litigation. Alan is regularly called upon by the media and professional bodies to comment on legal issues surrounding sexual abuse cases. Alan has acted in many high profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Max Clifford abuse scandals, So you know your claim will be handled by an expert.
For regular updates follow us on Twitter @abuse_justice
Sexual abuse is when someone initiates unwanted sexual contact with you. This can include unwanted touching, name calling, forced penetration and using sex as a way of causing pain or humiliation to the victim.
Sexual abuse can occur in many different forms. The attack can be a one off occurrence or can be sustained over a period of time. Abuse can have occurred earlier in your life or currently ongoing. Abuse can happen to both children and adults, male and female. Abuse can happen over the internet or in person. Victims of sexual abuse are never to blame.
Reporting sexual abuse can be a nerve-racking experience, you may feel like no one will believe you. If you have been a victim of sexual abuse or you suspect someone else is being sexually abused you should report it to the police. The police will be able to help gather evidence and bring your attacker to justice.
If the sexual abuse happened recently, it is advised that you keep the clothes you were wearing as the police may want to examine these for evidence. Similarly if you haven’t showered or bathed between the abuse occurring and reporting the abuse you should try to not do so, as the police may want to examine you for signs of assault.
If the abuse took place in the past you can still report it to the police.
If you are reporting sexual abuse for the first time to a solicitor, they will still be able to help. A trained sexual abuse solicitor will be able to help you seek out treatment and advice you need, as well as advice you as to whether or not you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
There are also a range of other organisations that will be able to give you advice on reporting sexual abuse. See our list of sexual abuse organisations tab below.
If you suspect someone is being sexually abused there are a number of signs of that you can look out for.
Some signs of sexual abuse may be emotional. Emotional signs could include: change in appetite, depression, anxiety and avoiding intimacy.
Other signs of sexual abuse could be physical. Physical signs of sexual abuse might include: self-harm, bruising, physical pain, bleeding or even suicide attempts.
These signs are not exclusively linked to sexual abuse. If you suspect a loved one or friend is being abused you should try talking to them to make sure there is no other reason for them displaying either emotional or physical signs of sexual abuse.
You can make a claim for sexual abuse compensation against any organisation, institution or individual that failed in their duty of care to protect you from harm.
When you are ready, you should contact a specialist sexual abuse solicitor who will be able to give you advice on making a claim. At Hugh James, our team of sexual abuse solicitors can offer you a free initial consultation. Discussing sexual abuse can be an uncomfortable and intimidating experience. We want you to feel comfortable talking to us about your claim, so a consultation can be conducted in a way that suits you. You can talk to us over the phone, using the phone number listed on the right hand side of this page, or if you prefer one of our team can arrange to meet you in person.
Our sexual abuse team will help you gather the evidence to make a claim for compensation against your abuser. To strengthen your claim, all evidence should be preserved as quickly as possible. Injuries should be photographed. Internet logs should be printed off. Soiled clothing should be kept safe in a freezer bag. Visits to medical centres should be documented. Names and addresses should be kept of people who could be witnesses (including people the victim told about the abuse). Names and addresses of other victims should be gathered.
The courts in England and Wales recognise that abuse doesn’t always happen in public and that there may be no witnesses to the crime. In many cases a victim’s description of the sexual abuse may be enough to support a claim, particularly when multiple cases are reported. If there is evidence to support the claim, such as a criminal conviction, this will provide even greater grounds for claiming damages. Even if the abuser has been acquitted of all charges this is not necessarily a bar to a successful sexual abuse compensation claim.
The majority of sexual abuse claims will settle outside of court. If a particular case was likely to go to court in England or Wales, there would be opportunities to review and reconsider. If necessary we could arrange for evidence to be given confidentially via video link.
In England and Wales, sexual abuse victims have the right to remain confidential throughout the prosecution and compensation process. If, however, you chose to speak with the media you may compromise your confidentiality.
If you have any further questions about the claims process or would like to speak to somebody confidentially about making a claim, then please contact us by using the contact form on this page or call us using the number listed above.
Alan Collins is a partner at Hugh James and is head of our sexual abuse team. Alan has many years of experience dealing with sexual abuse compensation claims and is one of the best known solicitors in the field of abuse litigation. Alan is regularly called upon by the media comment on legal issues surrounding abuse cases.
Alan represents clients in the UK and internationally and has worked on sexual abuse claims all over the World, including in Australia, Uganda, Kenya, and California.
Some of the high profile cases Alan Collins has succeeded in securing compensation for sexual abuse victims include:
Alan and his team are currently representing victims of abuse at Badgeworth Court, Clouds House and Dowdeswell schools in Gloucestershire during the 1970s and 80s.
Alan is also assisting and representing careleavers at the Committee of Inquiry in Jersey.
With Alan and his team supporting you through the claims process you can be assured that your case will be handled with the greatest attention to detail and care.
Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, the abuser is someone the victim of sexual abuse knows, such as a family member or friend. You can bring a claim for financial compensation against an individual as long as they have assets or money which they can be sued against.
If the individual is now deceased or has no assets to claim against, you can still apply for compensation under the government’s criminal injuries compensation scheme. This scheme was created to provide compensation for serious criminal acts by way of public sympathy for innocent victims.
The process doesn’t rely on the offender being caught, but there are other rules that apply. Our sexual abuse solicitors will be able to advise you on whether the criminal injuries compensation scheme would be relevant to your case during our initial, free, investigations. Alternately, if you have any questions, contact our sexual abuse team to discuss your claim further.
Institutions such has hospitals, care homes, schools and the church have a duty of care to make sure you are protected whilst under their care. If you were abused whilst under the care of an institution, then you can make a claim for compensation against the organisation responsible for the institution, such as the abusers employer, councils responsible for a school or care home, hospital trusts or the Church.
There are generally no time limits for prosecuting abusers (although there are exceptions), however, there are time limits imposed for making a compensation claim. The time limit for making a compensation claim is usually two years from the date the injustice took place. However, due to the sensitive nature of sexual abuse compensation claims, these times limits often do not apply. In many cases time limits can be extended, meaning past sexual abuse claims may still be eligible for compensation, especially if there has been a recent police or other investigation.
The best advice would be to contact a specialist sexual abuse solicitor as soon as possible.
A solicitor can help you get specialist help that might not be available through the NHS. The costs of treatment may form part of your compensation claim. Victims often need to fund their treatment from the compensation they receive.
It is possible to make a compensation claim for sexual abuse that occurred outside England or Wales, however, the following criteria will apply:
The above conditions mean that if, for example, the abuser was working abroad for an English or Welsh based company/organisation, they, in turn, may be responsible for their employee’s actions.
Our experts at Hugh James have represented numerous clients who are living abroad and have successfully brought a claim for sexual abuse based on the above criteria. If you’re unsure what to do next, you can contact us and we will investigate your individual circumstances for free, without obligation.
|“This is the painting I drew when you informed us, that we had achieved a settlement.
To me, it meant I could throw the stone that had weighed me down for years into a deep well and leave this part of my life behind me.
It will always be a part of my life and it has made me the woman I am now, but it won’t define who I am – not a victim, but a survivor and therefore a warrior and victor. Thank you for that”.
A satisfied client
The UK Child Sex Abuse People’s Tribunal (UKCSAPT) has been established by survivors of institutional child sexual abuse and their supporters.
The People’s Tribunal is an independent body that emerges from the need of survivors to be heard and in response to their determination to secure government and parliamentary acknowledgment of the extent of institutional child sex abuse in the UK and Crown dependencies.
The People’s Tribunal’s mandate is to examine cases of institutional child sex abuse upon request from individuals or civil society organizations in the context of alleged failings on the part of government and statutory bodies both national and local.
The People’s Tribunal seeks to augment the independent panel Inquiry into child sex abuse, originally set up by the Home Office of the UK Government.
For the People’s Tribunal to succeed it is essential that survivors and witnesses are empowered to give evidence and this will be its guiding principle. Survivors will be supported in this process. It will provide a forum for those who want to give evidence and to do so in an environment to ensure that their voice is heard.
The intention is for the People’s Tribunal panel to sit at various locations across the UK.
The People’s Tribunal process is based on recognised legal principles and requires a rigorous examination of facts and context. Once its work has been concluded, the verdict and resulting report will be delivered to the Home Secretary, other government officials and interested parties.
Hugh James solicitors are pleased to provide advice and support to the People’s Tribunal.
For further information please contact Alan Collins. Alan is a solicitor at law firm Hugh James and specialises in representing victims of child sex abuse.
In 2010 the Jersey’s Chief Minister made a formal apology to all those who suffered abuse in the States’ residential care system, acknowledging that this had failed some children in a serious way.
The Jersey Care Leavers’ Association had campaigned in the wake of Operation Rectangle for there to be a full inquiry to the allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Haut de la Garenne and other institutions in Jersey.
Operation Rectangle reported and recorded a total of 553 alleged offences between September 2007 and December 2010. Of these, 315 were reported as being committed at Haut de la Garenne Children’s Home. Eight people were prosecuted for 145 offences and seven convictions secured. The Police identified 151 named offenders and 192 victims.
In his apology the Chief Minister promised that the Council of Ministers would consider whether there remained any ‘unanswered questions’ that required further investigation by a Committee of Inquiry.
On 2nd March 2011 the States Assembly formally requested the Council of Ministers to establish a Committee of Inquiry to investigate a number of ‘unresolved issues’ in relation to historical abuse in the Island:
(1) What measures were taken to address inappropriate behaviour from staff when it was discovered, and if those measures were insufficient, what other measures should have been taken?
(2) How did those in authority at political and officer level deal with problems that were brought to their attention?
(3) Were there any mechanisms in operation to allow children to report their concerns in safety; and what action was taken if and when concerns were voiced?
(4) Was a consistent and impartial approach taken when deciding on which cases to prosecute; and was the process free from political influence or interference at any level?
The JCLA is an interested party to the Committee of Inquiry and is represented by Alan Collins a lawyer at Hugh James.
The JCLA continues to press for transparency and the rigorous questioning and examination of the evidence to ensure that the victims and their families get the answers to the four questions set out above.
We are examining the legal issues that could arise from the Foreign and Common Wealth Office (FOC) inquiry into sexual abuse allegations on the British controlled island of St Helena’s amid claims of “cover-up”. The FOC have been accused of lying to the United Nations about endemic child abuse on the remote island to cover up allegations of sexual abuse.
At Hugh James, we have the history and experience of looking after the interests of victims at inquiries and related legal proceedings, for example, Alan Collins – partner represented victims in the Haut de la Garenne (Jersey) child abuse case.
We are now applying our skills and knowledge to issues that the St Helena’s sexual abuse inquiry will bring.
Hugh James is representing interested parties at the IICSA inquiry. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is investigating whether public bodies and other non-state institutions took their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales seriously.
If you want to know more about the IICSA please contact us or go the inquiry’s website.
If you want to be legally represented at the IICSA please contact us in confidence on 0330 111 1866.
Hugh James represents survivors of sexual abuse both nationally and internationally. We have the knowledge and experience of looking after the interests of victims at inquiries and related legal proceedings, for example, Partner Alan Collins represented victims in the recent Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.