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Can I claim compensation for historic sexual abuse?

The CICA will pay compensation for historical sexual abuse, providing all their eligibility rules are met.

To discuss a criminal injuries claim, call 0113 320 5000

Sexual abuse is usually termed historic if it happened in childhood and you are now an adult. It is also sometimes referred to as “non-recent abuse”. Childhood abuse is among the most traumatic forms of abuse a person can suffer and it is right that there is a means of receiving compensation for this.

Compensation claims for historic sexual abuse are made through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, as are claims for physical childhood abuse.

The compensation scheme reflects the nature of the offence, and the injury suffered as a result. It is possible to make claims for compensation for sexual offences or an offence resulting in physical injuries. Sexual offences can be anything from inappropriate touching over clothing, to rape. Contact our specialist rape solicitors to discuss your claim.

Police, courts and CPS

To be eligible for compensation the crime must be reported to the police. The police will carry out an investigation into the allegations made and carry out interviews with the defendant and witness as well as taking a clear account from you, as the person reporting the crime.

There is no requirement under the compensation scheme for a judgement at court, or even for the case to go to trial. If the result of the police investigation is such that there is sufficient evidence to refer the matter to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) and the CPS decide to prosecute then this is likely to be sufficient for compensation to be awarded.

Some cases do not make it to trial if they are historic abuse, or “non-recent abuse” as the perpetrator may have passed away. If this is the case, there can still be a claim for compensation. The police will interview anyone who may be a witness and may, on occasion, commission an expert report to provide a professional opinion. We have successfully claimed compensation for people when the perpetrator was unable to stand trial.

The compensation scheme requires people to fully cooperate with the police in bringing the offender to justice. Criminal procedure will be satisfied if you fully cooperate with the police investigation and the CPS along with the court process if the case does go to court.

Statistics for successful rape prosecutions are known to be low. If the case goes to trial, then you do not need to wait for the outcome of the trial, or the judgement, before making a claim for compensation. The fact that there was enough evidence to get it to trial can be enough to be awarded compensation.

The abuse must be reported to the police. If it was reported when you were a child, you will need to show you had good reason for not applying for child abuse compensation within the normal 'CICA 2 year rule'. They do not for instance accept that you simply did not know about the scheme. Whereas historic claims that are reported to the police many years after the abuse and within the last 2 years do comply with this eligibility rule. As the rules are complex, advice from a CICA solicitor is recommended.

You may have heard recently that a victim of abuse won a landmark case at the Court of Appeal. The Court decided that the 'CICA's same roof rule' of refusing abuse claims when the abuse happened before 1979 and the victim and abuser lived in the same household was unfair. We are now acting for many victims who were previously denied compensation because they lived under the same roof of their abuser. Current clients include victims living in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Dewsbury, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Leeds, London, Manchester, Scarborough, Sheffield, Whitby and York.

Unless the CICA is provided with a Police Crime Number the CICA will not accept your claim. If you still live in the area you can usually call 101 and that will put your through to a local police centre that can help you with tracking down the PCN. If you no longer live in the area, a call to the main police station in that county will usually help. If you are struggling a CICA Solicitor may be able to do this investigation for you, as they can act on your behalf.

It all depends on the police evidence and whether the CICA consider that you are an eligible victim of crime. If the police evidence is available, and your claim is being dealt with on a Police Evidence only basis, these claims are surprisingly quick. Currently we are managing to obtain appropriate awards for our clients in about 3 months. Where the police evidence is hard to track down, or where medical evidence is required because the claim is for clinically diagnosed permanent mental injury the timescale is about a year to 18 months. A CICA Solicitor will advise on the best course of action for your particular case.

Sexual abuse compensation ranges from £1,000 to £44,000. We find historic claims tend to be between £6,600 to £22,000, as the victim is often subjected to repeated abuse for months if not years. £6,600 is awarded for sexual abuse that involves repeated non penetrative abuse for less than 3 years. £22,000 is awarded for penetrative abuse lasting more than 3 years. There are a number of different awards in this range which your adviser can explain. The highest awards between £22,000 and £44,000 are paid to victims suffering serious internal injury and or mental injury clinically diagnosed by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. The CICA do not consider mental injury diagnosed by a counsellor or a therapist. You can also speak to us about compensation for rape victim.

Check out our CICA Compensation calculator

Many victims are rightly nervous about seeking compensation. They may have family concerns, as the family does not want to speak or be reminded of this dark episode in their past. They may feel worried about speaking to the police, or worried this will bring back all those memories they have tried to forget for years. Having listened for years to victims concerns, out team can share with you their experiences and help guide you through this difficult time.

Will it cost me to use a solicitor?

There is no cost to speak to our CICA Solicitors. This free initial chat will help you decide if you are eligible to claim. If you do wish to proceed, we will offer you a 'no win no fee' agreement. This means you have no legal costs unless you are awarded compensation. Your legal costs on a successful claim are usually 25% + VAT.

Claiming for Mental Injury

Sexual assault or sexual abuse claims can result in significant mental health issues. If you have suffered with your mental health as a result of the crime you have experienced you may be able to claim an additional amount for mental injury.

Mental injury, or psychological injury is considered by the compensation scheme, so long as there is medical evidence to show that your mental health struggles are a direct result of the crime. For a lot of people the psychological impact of sexual abuse, or a sexual assault is greater than the event itself.

If you are worried about your mental health the first person to talk to is your GP. They will be able to make assessments and referrals to specialist services to help you. A GP is likely to be able to diagnosis and treat conditions such as anxiety and depression. These conditions are much more common amoungst people who have suffered abuse.  A GP may tell you that you are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) type symptoms, but generally you would need an onward referral to get a formal diagnosis of this.  If you have anxiety or depression make sure you tell your solicitor when you make contact about a claim

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according, to the NHS is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening, or distressing events. It is likely to be treated by talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) on the NHS. You may receive a formal diagnosis of this from a specialist, such as a clinical psychologist.

The compensation scheme awards for mental injury depending on the level of severity of the injury and the impact on your day to day life, along with how long it lasts for (or is expected to last).

Mental injury claims can also be made if you have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, emotionally unstable personality disorder, borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia. Any such diagnosis would need to have been made by a specialist. You will need to provide details of your currently treating mental health professional. In these cases it is likely copies of mental health medical records, and a report from your clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist would be required.

Anyone receiving specialist treatment for any of bipolar disorder, emotionally unstable personality disorder, borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia who has been the victim of historic abuse would strongly be advised to look into making a compensation claim. If you have any of these conditions and you need support to make your claim you can instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf.

Speak to our criminal injuries claim team, call us on 0113 320 5000

For an initial free assessment of your case, please call our CICA Solicitors on 0113 320 5000 or email

Experience tells us that it is beneficial to the overall success of your claim, to instruct a solicitor at the very start. The CICA do not offer a solicitor to you and you are able to apply directly; however, without extensive knowledge of the scheme we see too often that applicants who have applied directly, face trouble and stumbling blocks along the way. By instructing Winston Solicitors you are receiving specialist advice from our Criminal Injury Lawyers, representation throughout your claim, including at Review and Appeal stage if required. We will ensure that you achieve the maximum award for your injuries, including loss of earnings and special expenses where applicable.

You may be able to. The burden of proof required by police and the Crown Prosecution Service is that they must show “beyond all reasonable doubt” that the assailant is guilty – sometimes this will lead the CPS being unable to charge if there are some discrepancies or a lack of evidence. The burden of proof the CICA require is much less and it is accepted “on balance of probability” that the crime took place, then you should be able to claim compensation.

Yes. So long as you have required medical treatment for the same. The CICA would require you to have a diagnosis from a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist; if you don't have this yet but are receiving counselling or therapy, please call our specialist Criminal Injury Lawyers on 0113 320 5000 who will be able to advise you further. You can also use our Criminal Injuries Compensation Calculator to see how much your claim may be worth.

Yes. Each case will be assessed on its own merits so it will certainly depend on why a claim is being sought now; however, we have successfully represented thousands of clients who have claimed compensation as an adult. Please talk to our specialist Criminal Injury Lawyers on 0113 320 5000 and they will be able to advise you further.

Absolutely not. We do not share your information with anyone else without your prior consent. As your compensation is paid by government funds, there is no reason why the assailant would be aware of your claim for compensation.

Yes, you can make claims for sexual offences on a police evidence only basis. This means you can be compensated for the fact that the crime has happened, without having to disclose sensitive medical information.

Non recent abuse is another term for historic abuse, and it is usually used to mean abuse which took place in childhood, when the person involved in now over 18. 

No, most claims for sexual offences can be settled without medical reports. Claims for physical injuries can be settled using your medical records from your own doctors. 

If the police investigate the crime and there is not enough evidence for them to refer the case to the CPS for a charging decision, then it is unlikely compensation would be awarded due to a lack of evidence. 

No, if the police investigation does not result in a conviction, or the alleged perpetrator is not convicted this does not necessarily mean you cannot claim compensation.

Yes, so long as there is sufficient evidence that it was non-consensual. This is often made as part of a domestic violence claim, if there has also been physical injury.

Domestic violence claims can also be made through the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme, these would be awarded based on what physical injuries you have suffered. 

There are cases where the perpetrator is deemed unfit to stand trial, or the court decides part way through the trial that they are too ill to be tried. You would still be able to claim compensation. 

Yes, if you have a confirmed diagnosis of a disabling mental injury as a direct result of the crime, and that diagnosis comes from either a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist. 

You can claim for PTSD if a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist have confirmed that it is disabling on a level where it affects you day to day, and that it is as a direct result of the crime.