What is childhood abuse?
Abuse in childhood or childhood abuse can take many forms, including:
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
The NSPCC estimate that over half a million children in the UK suffer child abuse each year.
What should I do if I suspect that a child is being abused?
It is very important that we are all aware of the prevalence of child abuse and are aware of the signs. It can be extremely difficult to know if a child is being abused and it is very common for the child to remain silent about the abuse.
There are many charities and organisations, such as the NSPCC, that have lots of information on their websites and that are available for you to contact if you need some advice. Suspected child abuse should be reported to the appropriate person or organisation such as a safeguarding officer, local authority children’s services or the police.
I suffered childhood abuse, is it too late to report it?
Not at all. It is never too late to report abuse and indeed we encourage all our clients to do so.
It can be extremely difficult to bring up and relive traumatic events from your childhood, but if the offender is still alive it is important that they are held accountable for their actions. An individual can still be prosecuted for sexual offences many years later and the police take reports of historic abuse seriously. The police have designated officers in their child and family protection units.
Can I bring a claim for childhood abuse that happened many years ago?
You can bring a civil claim for compensation for childhood abuse many years later. There are time limits in these cases. The law states that where you suffered abuse as a child any civil claim should be brought within three years of turning 18, so by your 18th birthday. The Law also recognises, however, that many people do not bring their claims in time and that there are often understandable reasons for this.
If you would to start a claim our institutional sexual abuse compensation calculator will give you an idea of what compensation you could be entitled to.
The courts have a discretion to allow you to bring your claim long after the time limit has passed. It is important that you have a specialist solicitor to help you, especially when your claim is being brought out of time as the court will look closely at the reasons for your delay and its is not always that case that you will be allowed to proceed. We have to demonstrate to the court that there can still be a fair trial of the issues in the case.
What if I can’t remember every detail of what happened to me, is it worth me claiming?
It is understandable in cases of childhood abuse that you may struggle to remember all the detail. This may be because the abuse happened a long time ago. It is also common for those who have suffered childhood abuse to block out the traumatic memories.
Whilst you do need to be able to provide an account of what happened to you, neither the police or the civil courts will expect you to recall all the specific details. You may not be able to recall exactly how many times you were abused or what day it was. You may also not remember events before or after and may have a poor recollection of names and places.
This should not deter you from reporting or making a claim as often these details are not important or you may recall more detail once you start to talk about what happened.