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Sexual Abuse Compensation Guide - How to make your claim

Historical sexual abuse claims advice

We help people obtain compensation following injury and mental harm caused by sexual assault or historical child abuse. Awards for sexual abuse or assault can range from £3300-£22,000. On this page you can find out everything you need to know regarding the government criminal injury claims process and how much compensation you may be entitled to.

This is a safe place to receive private and confidential advice on a potential claim under a government scheme which is operated by a body called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) who are an agency of the Ministry of Justice.

The process is not straightforward for many victims of abuse and it is recommended that you seek legal advice before claiming.

Female abuse solicitor

The CICA are not a charitable organisation. Your claim must comply with strict scheme eligibility criteria. Find out the facts now and apply for your compensation today. Read our essential abuse compensation tips before you submit your claim. If your case involves a single one off incident you may wish to view our rape assault page.

Who is eligible to claim following sexual assault or abuse - how to claim?

Please click to select the query or section required:

Police investigations into abuse - useful information

About the CICA claims process and scheme rules

How much compensation can you receive for sexual abuse?

Call us to discuss your case today - 01423 593 002 or complete our enquiry form

What is a legal definition of "child sexual abuse" in the UK?

There are different variations of what might be deemed the legal definition across the devolved legal systems in the UK but in simple terms child sexual abuse (historical or non-recent abuse) is any act that involves a child in any activity for the sexual gratification of another person, whether or not the child consented. The NSPCC have very clear guidance on what child abuse can be defined as here.

The law on child abuse in the UK falls under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Who can claim sexual abuse compensation - check your eligibility

If you have been the victim of child sexual abuse or sexual assault you may well be able to claim compensation through a government funded scheme. The scheme is managed by a body called the CICA. In order to apply you need to meet the following very strict eligibility criteria:

  • You must have reported the child abuse or sexual assault crimes to the police. This included non-recent abuse cases.
  • The police must be able to investigate thoroughly with your full cooperation
  • You must submit your claim (*in most cases) within 2 years of going to the police

*It is possible to claim after the deadline in cases where the assault victim suffers mental health problems or has an exceptional reason for any delay.

About the CICA and what do they do?

The UK government compensation scheme for all victims of violent crime is managed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This body was set up in 1964 when the very first crime victims compensation scheme was created. Each year the CICA deal with up to 35,000 applications and spend around £150 million in awards to innocent victims of violent crime.

Privacy and confidentiality when making a sexual abuse claim to the CICA

This is quite understandably a huge issue for survivors of sexual abuse. Be assured ALL applications made to the CICA are strictly private and confidential. The only parties that know about your claim will be the police who must provide evidence of the crimes committed and likewise your GP or hospital doctor who must supply medical evidence required in most but not all cases. You need not worry about the offender finding out you have made a claim, they are not involved in the process in any way are not asked to compensate you. You may pursue them on a personal civil level if you choose to do so.

About using a solicitor or legal advisor to handle your claim

You do not need a solicitor or legal advisor to make a claim. The CICA will deal with you directly. However it is important that you remember that they are not an Ombudsman type organisation nor are they a charitable one. They will assess your case on strict eligibility criteria and unless your claim is straightforward, it is sensible to seek free legal advice BEFORE you claim. We can help with any case but also those that are delayed or otherwise complex, those involving loss of earnings entitlement and cases already refused by the CICA. Our service is No win No fee. More on our No win No fee service here.

How do you know your case will be accepted and you will receive an award?

Whether your case is accepted or not will depend entirely on the CICA criteria and whether there is sufficient evidence to show that on the "balance of probability" a crime occurred. If your case has been to court, that is usually a good indicator of probability but it is also possible to receive a payout even if your case does not reach court. It really is a question of assessing the available evidence.

Top 5 reasons why some claims are refused

Not all assault or abuse claims will be accepted and there are many applicants who do not receive compensation. In many instances this has nothing to do with the police evidence but is the result of the CICA very strict scheme rules. Here are the top 5 reasons for cases being refused:

  1. The applicant has "live" or unspent criminal convictions.
  2. The applicant failed to cooperate with the police during the investigation.
  3. The claim was submitted too late, in other words after the permitted application deadline.
  4. A claim can be refused due to lack of cooperation during the process for example failing to provide required evidence to the CICA.
  5. Duplicate claims are not allowed - you can only submit one claim for each criminal matter. You do not get to claim twice.

More here on why unspent criminal convictions can be a serious issue.

What happens when you report a sexual abuse case to the police?

One of the most difficult moments for any survivor of abuse comes when they make the difficult decision to report the crimes to the police. The fear of an uncertain outcome, a scary court process but also disclosure of the abuse itself along with naming the abuser can all be overwhelming. The police however are very well equipped to handle such investigations and modern methods of investigating sexual crimes have made the process much easier to bear.

The police will want to interview all relevant parties and witnesses. The witness statement from the "complainant" will usually be in video form once the initial disclosure has taken place. The offender may also be interviewed under caution on video. Additional evidence will be considered such as medical records, phone based media evidence and any witnesses spoken to. The matter will in due course be considered for a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in England & Wales or the The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in Scotland for the decision to be made on a possible prosecution. If the case is to proceed a trial date or window will then be set. The process can take anywhere from 1-2 years. More complex cases involving multiple victims may take longer.

More information here on what happens when you report sexual abuse to the police.

Court action and whether it is necessary to make your claim

You do not have to go to court or succeed in court to make a claim for sexual abuse. However the eligibility test of being able to show that on the "balance of probability" the criminal events occurred, will still need to be met in order for the CICA to make a compensation award.

Cases where the police take no further action

If the police do not proceed with your case and either close the investigation early or the matter is not subject to any court proceedings, as stated above you may still be able to claim. The balance of probability test will need to be met. We see many compensation cases succeeding where the criminal proceedings fail so do not be put off making your application. Non recent abuse cases are hugely difficult. Find out what rights you have if the police decide against prosecuting an offender.

Is it better to await the outcome of the trial before claiming for sexual abuse?

It is not necessary to await the outcome of the trial before claiming following sexual abuse but it is wise to consider doing so. The police may take a view that applying too soon may actually prejudice the case if you are cross examined and the question of compensation is raised. However against this is the unfair CICA 2 year deadline which demands that your case is submitted 2 years on from disclosure to the police.

Call us to discuss your case today - 01423 593 002 or complete our enquiry form

Timelimits and when to submit your online child sexual abuse claim

There are strict time limits on applying to the CICA for sexual abuse compensation. The general rule is that you must submit your claim within 2 years of the crime (not possible in the majority of abuse cases) or within 2 years of the first police notification date. When you consider the comments made above regarding the police investigation and how long this can take, you can understand why the 2 year deadline is very much criticised.

What if you have missed your application deadline?

As discussed above there can be many reasons why the deadline may be missed. We can advise you on how your claim can still be successfully made despite being late. We have managed to win cases that were delayed by 30 years or more. The key issue is the reason for the delay and whether health problems have contributed. BE AWARE: It is not sufficient to simply argue that you did not know about the scheme or the rule which may have led to a delayed claim. That explanation will not meet the exceptional reason criteria for a late claim being admitted.

We have an excellent track record of winning cases that are outside of the 2 year deadline - get in touch for advice.

The Same Roof Rule for pre-1979 cases and how you are now able to claim

Until the summer of 2019 the CICA would refuse any claim from a victim of sexual abuse that occurred within the family where the offender lived with the victim under the "same roof" prior to 1979. This extremely unfair rule was successfully challenged

in the courts during 2018 and now all such claims will be considered. We can advise you on your rights to apply if you suffered abuse prior to 1979.

Types of evidence required to make a successful sexual abuse claim

The CICA will always obtain evidence from the police to substantiate the allegations made against the offender. They must establish on the balance of probability that the events occurred and that criminal intent or wrongdoing was accepted by the police. Further evidence will then be required in most cases from an applicants GP or hospital (mental health department for example) to show the level of any injury caused. You do not need to show signs of a mental injury or disorder to claim an abuse award. The fact that the acts were perpetrated and abuse has been established is sufficient to receive an award. It is important that medical evidence is explored fully if you have a serious condition such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a personality disorder. This may help support a higher compensation award and possibly a loss of earnings payment.

Claiming for serious long-term mental health problems

It is very common for abuse survivors to suffer from long-term mental health problems and such conditions can be compensated for under the government scheme. There is however a catch that rather disappointingly can restrict many justified cases.

In order to receive an award for a serious mental health issue any condition must be classified as a "disabling mental injury" and diagnosed by a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist. This means that evidence from say a GP or a therapist is not deemed sufficient and no award will be made unless a higher level diagnosis is achieved. For many this can be a major problem as people tend to try and cope without escalating to the local mental health team. But it is not possible to receive an award for disabling mental harm unless you have the right level of evidence.

Physical damage caused by sexual abuse

If you have suffered any physical injuries as a result of childhood sexual abuse, you may be able to claim for the injuries caused. We have experience in representing applicants who by the very nature of the acts perpetrated upon them have been injured internally suffering for example gynaecological or urological related injuries. Subject to medical evidence from suitable experts, these injuries can be included within your claim.

How long do CICA claims for sexual abuse take?

Most claims settle within 12-18 months. However when you submit an abuse case to the CICA you will be given two options regarding the method of how the claim is assessed. This directly affects how long a claim can take to reach a settlement. The CICA ask you to choose whether you wish to settle any eligible case using the police evidence only or the police evidence along with medical evidence. If you have no severe mental health complications then a "police evidence only" option might suit you. This might lead to a settlement within 6 months.

It is strongly recommended you only choose the quicker route if you do not wish to claim for a medical related problem and have no loss of earnings to consider. If you settle the claim without exploring medical evidence you may receive a much lower award than you are entitled to.

Call us to discuss your case today - 01423 593 002 or complete our enquiry form

CICA awards for sexual abuse and sexual assault

Our calculator tool below will help you with estimating the potential compensation that may be paid in respect of your claim. However be aware that figures do vary considerably depending upon the nature (severity) of the abuse, period of suffering and whether any mental harm has been caused. Some common example award payouts are listed below relevant to the acts or abuse perpetrated:

  • Molestation above clothing: £1,500 - £2,000
  • Non penile penetrative acts: £3,300 - £8,200
  • Penile penetrative assaults single event or over a period (rape assaults):  £11,000 - £22,000

If you suffer with mental illness you can only claim for this element if you have a condition diagnosed by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. This is the standard of evidence that the CICA (very unreasonably) require. The following awards are paid for such cases:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) recovery likely: up to £13,500
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) condition likely to be lifelong: £22,000
  • Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) - up to £22,000
  • Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) generally deemed lifelong: £22,000

You can only receive one main award, so you will not be compensated for both the abuse itself and also any mental health condition. You receive the higher award from the two categories.

Can you claim for loss of earnings under the scheme?

The compensation scheme allows for loss of earnings to be reclaimed but subject to some very constraining criteria:

  • You must have little or no capacity for paid work
  • You will need to establish that you either were in paid work leading up to the application (but can no longer work) or have been on long term absence due to the abuse
  • The CICA will ignore the first 28 weeks of any period of loss - only long term absence is considered
  • Loss of earnings will be capped at the official level of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) valid at the time of settlement
  • You will need evidence from HMRC or a former employer to substantiate loss of earnings.
  • You will also need clear medical evidence preferably from a consultant doctor explaining your incapacity and how this is linked to the child abuse you suffered.

It is very difficult to negotiate a claim for lost earnings with the CICA. It is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice as the yearly award level is around £5000. When you consider a victim of crime may not work for many years due to the harm cause, this is a considerable head of claim.

Can you claim for other losses such as care costs?

It is possible to claim for care costs under the scheme which are classified as "special expenses". However as you can probably guess such claims are not easy to make as you must establish that a care need exists and that medical evidence supports this. If the care costs can be covered by benefits (attendance allowance or PIP) this can give rise to a further complication. Reasonable costs incurred as a direct result of an abuse related injury can be recovered in certain cases.

How to protect your award if you are on DWP means tested benefits

If you are receiving benefits when you are about to settle your sexual abuse claim you need to be aware of the risks involved once you receive a large lump sum (classified as "capital" by the DWP). Any award in excess of £6000 may significantly affect your benefits entitlement. If you receive more than £16000 your means tested benefits can cease immediately. You can avoid losing your benefits by taking out a personal injury trust. We strongly recommend that you seek advice from the DWP and from your legal representative before you settle your claim.

Helpful Links

NAPAC - The National Association for People Abused in Childhood

Survivors UK - Male rape charity

Action for Children - protecting children from abuse and neglect

Lucy Faithfull Organisation - preventing child abuse across the UK

Thinkuknow - protecting children online and offline

News updates on child abuse matters in the UK

For help and advice on sexual assault or abuse victim claims please visit our dedicated pages:

Call our specialists to discuss your case in confidence 01423 593 002 or use our quick enquiry form

Sexual Abuse and assault compensation calculator

Our simple calculator tool below has been developed to provide prospective claimants with an idea of the abuse compensation award that might be achievable under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) scheme. The calculation is an approximate figure and any final abuse related award assessed by the CICA may differ. You should always seek advice on your case to ensure the correct level of award is paid. Historical claims of this nature are complex and need specialist advice. In order to calculate your award please choose a category and follow the instructions.

Injury type:

More information

Learning to cope

The road ahead is not just one that involves the police or legal outcomes. Help is available from may sources and there are a number of dedicated services which can provide support and guidance to those survivors who need it. Here are just a few based in the UK: If you would like to discuss your case informally without any obligation - call our confidential helpline and speak to a specialist adviser. Whatever your circumstances and whatever the complications we can usually find a way forward to help you make your claim. CALL OUR HELPLINE TODAY ON: 01423 593002
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