What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is a term usually used to refer to assaults of a sexual nature committed upon one person by another. It can involve more minor assaults such as inappropriate touching over clothing or more serious assaults such as rape. There may be a single incident or assault or a pattern of assaults. Abuse can happen to people of all ages, both male and female.
Our institutional sexual assault and abuse compensation calculator gives you an estimate of what compensation you could claim.
What does historic sexual abuse mean?
Does there need to be a lack of consent for behaviour to be classed as sexual abuse or assault?
Whilst we tend to think of abuse or assaults as involving unwanted or forced behaviour where a person does not consent, there are many situations where technically a person may consent but it is still considered abuse.
Grooming is an example of this where a person is coerced or tricked into engaging in sexual activity. Grooming can happen to both children and adults and often occurs in a situation where the abuser has some sort of power, control or influence over the individual, such as a teacher, sports coach or religious leader.
Does sexual abuse or assault have to involve touching?
In order to pursue a civil claim for sexual abuse or assault we usually need to identify an act or behaviour that amounts to an assault under the civil law. In civil law these are known as ‘torts’. Torts are basically civil wrongs. There are circumstances when behaviour or actions that do not involve any contact or touching may amount to civil wrongs and therefore can form the basis of a claim.
The law is also developing in this area with the increase of social media and online platforms, which are often used to groom and abuse and involve no physical contact.
I find it difficult to speak about the sexual abuse I have suffered, will I still be able to bring a legal claim?
It is very common for our clients to feel worried about talking to a solicitor or other professionals. We are very experienced in dealing with sensitive matters and have acted for hundreds of people in cases involving sexual abuse. It is important that we have a clear picture of what happened to you, but, more often than not, we can obtain the detail from other sources such as any police statements you have made or any discussions you have already had with counsellors or other professionals.
When you first speak to us it is unlikely that you will need to provide a detailed account of what has happened at that stage. As long as we have an idea as to the nature of the assaults then we can advise you.