By law, you’re entitled to claim compensation for injuries and also for losses that you’ve suffered as a result of sexual or physical abuse.

The Slater and Gordon sexual and physical abuse team are highly experienced in dealing with the complex, sensitive cases. For an initial, confidential consultation, call Slater and Gordon on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.

The impact of sexual and physical abuse

Abuse can cause both physical and psychological harm that can often be lifelong, especially if untreated. Emotional effects can include feelings of helplessness, shame, denial, anger, self-blame, guilt, loneliness and anxiety. People can also experience nightmares, flashbacks, mood swings and depression, and they can have difficulty trusting others. In some cases, it can lead to post traumatic stress disorder, addictions or serious behavioural problems.

Abuse can also have a financial impact, for example if the person who has suffered is unable to work as a result, or if the treatment they need is expensive.

Because of the serious effects that it can cause, people who’ve suffered physical and sexual abuse have the right to seek compensation. Whether you've been abused as an adult or a child, either recently or a long time ago, you may be entitled to make a claim.

Types of sexual and physical abuse

There are many different forms of sexual and physical abuse. These may include:

  • Child sexual abuse - Child sexual abuse is when a child is persuaded or forced to participate in sexual activities. There are two main types of abuse - contact and non-contact. Contact abuse is the term used to describe touching activities in which the perpetrator physically touches a child. Non-contact abuse includes non-touching activities, including grooming and encouraging a child to listen to or watch sexual acts. It also includes persuading children to perform acts of a sexual nature over the internet.
  • Domestic violence - This abuse is about intimidation and power and as well as physical violence and sexual assault, it can involve emotional and psychological abuse. It’s defined as a pattern of controlling, threatening, coercive or violent behaviour between people aged 16 and over.
  • Elderly abuse - This is the victimisation of older people who suffer from reduced functionality and who are therefore reliant on others. Those responsible can include caretakers, spouses, adult children and fellow facility residents and can include both sexual and physical abuse.
  • Rape - This happens when someone has penetrative sex with another individual without their consent.
  • Groping - Groping, which can occur under or over clothing, is the touching of someone in a sexual way without their consent.
  • Sexual harassment - This is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature that makes the recipient feel degraded, intimated or humiliated and violates their dignity It can create an offensive or hostile environment.

The most common abuse claims

The most common types of abuse claim include:

  • Abuse suffered as a child in local authority or foster care
  • Failure by social services to protect a child from abuse
  • Abuse of a child by someone who’s in a position of responsibility and trust, such as a priest or a teacher
  • Abuse suffered as a child within organisations such as sporting clubs and scout groups
  • Abuse suffered within the family
  • Abuse or assaults by doctors/ hospitals/ the medical profession
  • Abuse of older people in a care or nursing home
  • Physical or sexual abuse suffered as an adult
  • A single incident of a sexual or physical assault

Cases of abuse like these are often complex, meaning you should speak to solicitors who’re experts in physical and sexual abuse law. Slater and Gordon has vast expertise in this area and can advise you on whether or not you can make a compensation claim.

Funding an abuse claim

The cost of legal advice is often a concern. However, there are several options available to fund cases of abuse and sexual assault.

If you have legal expense insurance under an existing insurance policy (such as motor insurance or home insurance) this may fund your claim. We can check this for you. If legal expense insurance is not in place under an existing policy, we may be able to conduct your case under a Conditional Fee Agreement, also known as a No Win, No Fee agreement. This means that if you don’t succeed in your claim, no payment is due.

If you’re making a Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) claim, the claim will be funded under a Contingency Fee Agreement. Again, this means if your case is unsuccessful, no payment is due.

As soon as we’ve reviewed your case, we’ll be able to explain the funding options available to you.

What to expect

We understand that taking the first step to talk about such sensitive information may seem overwhelming, but we’ll guide you through the process. During your confidential consultation, one of our solicitors will take details about what happened and provide you with some preliminary advice. They’ll also be able to explain the legal process and funding arrangements to you.

If we’re able to assist with your claim, we’ll then gather further details and begin to build your case.

Understandably, many people are concerned about having to go to court, especially in cases of abuse. It’s important to be aware though that most cases of abuse successfully settle before a final court hearing takes place. In the event that a final hearing does occur, it’s unlikely that the abuser will be present.

Your right to anonymity

Anyone who’s suffered a sexual offence has the right to have their anonymity protected under the law. This means that the media can’t publish your name or any details which might identify you. You should therefore not worry about confidentiality as the law’s there to protect you.

Group abuse cases

In cases which involve institutions, such as local authority care homes, or high profile cases, such as the Jimmy Savile investigation, there may be a number of individuals making similar complaints. Often this situation will arise when there’s been a large scale police investigation.

Where a number of such claims are brought at the same time, the court will often order that the claims be dealt with together as there’ll be a number of common issues between the individual cases. This is called Group Litigation.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers has a vast amount of experience when dealing with group abuse cases, in particular high profile group cases, and will provide you with the best possible advice.

Time limits for making a compensation claim

Even if the abuse happened a long time ago, it’s still possible to make a claim for compensation. In England and Wales, there’s an Act of Parliament called "The Limitation Act" which sets rules about when claims should be made. It’s therefore important that you speak to a solicitor who specialises in abuse claims as soon as possible if you think you might be eligible to make a claim

How Slater and Gordon Lawyers can help

We know that seeking compensation over physical or sexual abuse can cause considerable stress and anxiety. If you come to Slater and Gordon for assistance, you can rest assured our physical and sexual abuse law specialists will deal with your case with the utmost sensitivity and care. We’ll explain your options clearly and keep you fully informed at all stages.

We’re highly experienced in these complex cases and will help ensure you get the outcome you deserve. Many of our solicitors are members of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, the Pan European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers (PEOPIL), the Law Society Personal Injury Panel and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Call us for a confidential consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.