Rape crisis reported this week that there had been a 40% rise in calls since the Jimmy Savile documentary was aired in October 2012.
The BBC report that the rise reflects similar trends recently reported by the NSPCC and police statistics obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live.
These statistics demonstrate a welcome change to society’s view on childhood sexual abuse and show that the publicity surrounding Savile has provided all victims, whether abused by a celebrity or not, with confidence to come forward.
As a Child Abuse Lawyer it is encouraging to see that more victims are feeling able to speak out about the abuse they suffered. As a spokeswoman from Rape Crisis said yesterday, it can be incredibly difficult for those who have been raped and/or sexually abused as children to seek help at the time which she says is reflected in the fact that 450 survivors have reported Savile since his death. It is common for people not to be able to report abuse until many years after the abuse.
In circumstances where the abuse occurred many years ago this should not prevent people from reporting the abuse. There is no limitation in regard to any criminal investigation and the police will be able to investigate the matter regardless of the delay.
In regard to any civil claim there are limitation periods which apply. Generally the limitation period is 3 years (running from the date of the knowledge or when the child reaches 18) however, the courts have now recognised the difficulties that victims of abuse face in not being able to come forward until many years later and may therefore exercise their discretion under section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 to disapply the relevant limitation period.
At Slater and Gordon we are acting for many victims of abuse including approximately 70 Savile victims and are experienced with dealing with the difficulties and complexities in cases of these kind. Our Sexual & Physical Abuse team is keen to speak to anyone that has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article. Please contact a member of our team on 020 7657 1658/1637 for free confidential advice. Any communication will dealt with in strict confidence.