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Sexual Abuse Compensation Claims

If you’ve suffered sexual abuse you have every right to not just bring your perpetrator to justice, but to seek compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve endured.

Claim compensation for sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is a horrific crime which often causes a lifetime of mental trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and relationship problems. Sometimes, the abuse is insidious and it can take months or even years to realise that you are the victim of sexual abuse. With specialist support, victims could start sexual abuse claims or sexual assault claims – even if it involves historic abuse.

It’s a disturbing fact that, according to government statistics, women are still more vulnerable to sexual assault than men. Whenever another person inflicts sexual violence or unwanted sexual contact on someone else, it is not the victim’s fault. It is a crime; the perpetrator can be brought to justice; and compensation may be available to the victims.

If you’ve been sexually abused, it’s important not to blame yourself. Sexual abuse is often inflicted on the victim by someone they know, especially if it’s gone on for a lengthy period of time. Women are also more likely to know the perpetrator than male victims who have been abused or assaulted.

Confronting what has happened to you can be very difficult, but with sensitive support and advice, you deserve to claim sexual assault compensation or make a sexual abuse claim. While compensation can never undo what you’ve been through, it can help you in the healing process.

If you’ve suffered sexual abuse, you could start your no win no fee personal injury claim today. For more about no win no fee claims following sexual abuse or assault, speak with legally trained advisers by calling 0800 234 6438, or if you prefer, you can request a call back using the claim form here.

Can I make a no win no fee sexual abuse claim?

Your personal injury solicitors will be able to help you claim compensation on a no win no fee basis if they think you have a reasonable chance of winning. ‘No win no fee’ means the financial risk to you of making a sexual abuse claim is removed.

Your claim may be in the civil courts or direct to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). Regardless of how the compensation is made, you’ll simply sign a ‘conditional fee agreement’ which means you will have no legal costs to pay if your claim is unsuccessful. And if you win, you’ll receive your compensation award. Out of the compensation paid, you will then pay your solicitor a ‘success fee’ to cover your legal fees (this will never be more than 25% of your compensation).

To start your no win no fee sexual abuse claim process, simply call 0800 234 6438 for a no obligation consultation with trained legal advisors. They’ll pass you onto to specialist solicitors who will be by your side, every step of the way.

Importantly, the personal injury law firm will be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – giving you much needed peace of mind during the sexual abuse claims process.

What help is available for those who have been abused?

If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, there is a significant amount of help and support on offer. No one wants you to suffer in silence. The government, for example, has a dedicated website listing several organisations and their contact details, including Rape Crisis and Victim Support.

Find out more about making a criminal injury claim.

What amounts to sexual abuse or assault?

Any form of sexual abuse or violent sexual assault is a crime. It can range from the perpetrator making you watch porn, touching you intimately without your consent, or repeated rape or inappropriate touching over a period of time.

Sexual abuse can cause both physical and mental harm – and while any physical injuries may heal relatively quickly, it’s usually a different story when it comes to the extent of psychological injury caused to abuse victims. Thankfully, sexual abuse claims can lead to a payout for trauma and emotional harm – even where no physical injury was caused.

Sexual abuse or a sexual assault is extremely traumatic. Seek a medical examination and treatment as soon as possible. You may have suffered one injury (or even multiple injuries) and there may be a risk of contracting a sexual transmitted disease.

Also, if and when you’re feeling strong enough it is important to report the abuse to the police as soon as you can – it can help to have the support of a loved one who can be with you when you talk to the police.


More than 3 million adults in England and Wales were the victims of child sexual abuse in 2020; and one in seven victims admitted that they had never told anyone.

SOURCE: Office for National Statistics

What are the most common forms of sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse can take many different forms and happen in different settings. The abuse or assault might take place in private dwellings, in schools, in the workplace or on public transport. The most common forms of sexual abuse or assault include:

  • Rape – This includes any form of sexual penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth
  • Groping – Touching, groping and fondling of the victim without their consent
  • Non-consensual kissing – Being forced to kiss someone else
  • Non-contact abuse – Forcing or encouraging the victim to watch pornography or other people engaging in sexual acts
  • Sexual contact with children and vulnerable people – Child sexual abuse and having sexual relationships with someone who is unable to consent because they are vulnerable, for example in schools and residential homes for children
  • Sexual act without consent – ‘Consent’ for the purposes of sexual contact is wide ranging. A person who is young, or mentally incapable, or is drunk or intoxicated with drugs cannot give consent in the eyes of the law. If you’ve had a drink spiked leaving you vulnerable, and you believe you’ve been sexually assaulted or abused, you should report it immediately and take advice about what you should do
  • Sexual exploitation – This amounts to the victim being asked or demanded to provide sexual ‘favours’ in return for something, such as accommodation, food or company
  • Sexual torture – For example, forced penetration by an object or using animals
DID YOU KNOW: In the 12 months to March 2021, police recorded 148,114 sexual offences of which 55,696 were rape
SOURCE: Crime Survey for England and Wales

How do I know if I’ve suffered sexual abuse?

You might think it would be obvious if you’ve been sexually abused or assaulted, but there are situations where it may not be so clear. For example, if you’ve been in a bar and the next thing you remember is waking up in someone’s living room half undressed, it’s possible your drink was spiked and you’ve been sexually assaulted.

If you’re confused as to whether or not what you experienced amounts to sexual abuse or assault, you are not alone. You might want to talk through what’s happened with a specialist advice service such as your local sexual assault referral centre. These centres have specialist advisors who can help you talk with specially trained police officers about what you’ve suffered. This can help in dealing with future sexual assault claims or sexual abuse compensation claims.

You might be concerned that someone else, perhaps a vulnerable relative, is the victim of sexual abuse. Signs that could indicate abuse or sexual violence may include:

  • Sleeplessness or changes in behaviour, eg withdrawal or outbursts of anger
  • Bruising and soreness in the genital area
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

Can I claim for historical sexual abuse?

Historic sex abuse is the term usually used to refer to sexual abuse that happened long ago, usually during the victim’s childhood. English law recognises that childhood sexual abuse is among the most serious and traumatic forms of sexual crime because of the lifelong negative impact on the victim.

The fact that many years, if not decades, have passed does not necessarily prevent you from making a personal injury claim. A compensation claim for historic abuse would usually be made directly to the CICA rather than through the courts, often because the perpetrator has died or is too old or infirm to stand trial or would be unable to pay a sexual abuse compensation award.

However, the rules for sexual abuse claims to the CICA are complex and it is important to discuss your potential claim with specialist solicitors experienced in historical sexual abuse compensation cases. The most important step you can take is to call 0800 234 6438 for free legal advice with trained legal advisors.

What lasting damage can be caused by sexual abuse?

The harsh reality is that sexual abuse and sexual assault can cause long-term harm to the victim, even in the case of a single incident. The lasting damage may include:

Psychological harm

Sexual abuse and rape almost always causes emotional and mental ill-health. This can manifest as difficulties with forming relationships and in sexual relations in future. It can also lead to depression, anxiety, lack of trust, anger and feelings of shame. Sometimes, the symptoms of emotional or mental ill-health can take months or years to become apparent.


A particular type of psychological harm, the most common signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) include nightmares and flashbacks and sleep problems.


The victim may become pregnant as the direct result of a rape; and face the prospect of deciding to undergo an abortion or to have the baby and bear the cost of supporting the child.


Fortunately, most STDs are curable but some diseases can have a lasting impact, such as causing infertility, HIV and chronic pelvic pain.

Internal injuries

Violent sexual assault can cause serious internal bodily injuries. Damage to the sex organs, rectum or urinary tract, for instance, can cause problems with normal bodily functions such as sexual intercourse and urinating.

Seeking compensation for the harm and suffering you’ve experienced can help you on the road to recovery. For an initial no obligation chat with a trained adviser who is experienced in talking with the victims of sexual abuse, simply call 0800 234 6438 or request a call back using the online contact form.

Can I sue my employer for sexual abuse in the workplace?

It’s a harsh reality that sexual abuse, harassment and assault can take place at work. If you’ve been injured or sexually abused at work, you could well make a sexual assault claim against your employer.

This is because the law imposes strict health and safety responsibilities on employers to ensure the workplace is safe and free from the risk of injury and harm. This includes injury to workers’ mental and emotional health caused by sexual abuse or assault.

To make a claim, your solicitor would need to prove that the incident or pattern of sexually abusive behaviour was ‘allowed’ to happen because of the employer’s breach of its duty of care to protect you. If you’ve not already done so, you should report the incident/s to the police so that you can try to get justice. Also, the fact of reporting will be important evidence for your claim.

If it’s looking likely that your employer can’t be found liable for what happened, you could make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) instead (see below).

To find out whether your employer can be held responsible, call for free legal advice on 0800 234 6438 or leave your details via the online contact form and someone can get back to you.

DID YOU KNOW: In 2019, more than 1 in 2 women and nearly 7 out of 10 LGBT workers were sexually harassed in the workplace.
SOURCE: Trades Union Congress (TUC)

How can I prove I was abused?

Though it’s not always a simple process to prove you were abused, there are several types of evidence, such as police evidence and medical evidence, that solicitors rely on to build a robust sexual abuse case and claim compensation. For example:

Charge/conviction of the perpetrator

The police take reports of sexual abuse very seriously and usually carry out a police investigation thoroughly. Make sure you report sexual abuse to the police as soon as you’re able. Where a perpetrator is convicted, the very fact of their conviction will be crucial evidence to support sexual abuse claims. Unfortunately, the justice system is slow and the time between the initial complaint and the person being charged can take months if not years.

Even if your abuser is acquitted, the fact that he or she faced charges will still be strong evidence in support of your claim – the Crown Prosecution Service will have taken the view that there was sufficient evidence to bring charges. Unlike in criminal cases (where the offence has to be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’) you only need to prove on the balance of probabilities that the individual abused or assaulted you, causing your injury and suffering.

Forensic evidence

Your solicitor will discuss with you whether any evidence obtained by the police may be available to help in your case. That could, for example, be a confession or DNA evidence obtained from skin or hair left on your clothing or the body.

Medical evidence

If you’ve been to see your GP or attended your local accident and emergency department or walk-in minor injuries unit, your solicitor will obtain the medical evidence from your notes and medical records.

If you’ve experienced physical injuries as a result of the abuse or assault, you will probably have to have a medical assessment with a specialist further down the line. They will talk to you about what happened and examine you; then write a report on your injuries, the likely cause and what further medical treatment you may need.

Your victim statement

Your solicitor will take a statement from you setting out what happened. If your claim follows several occasions of sexual abuse, your lawyer will need to know when it started and where the incidents happened. They will be experienced in taking statements from the victims of sexual abuse and will handle your case sensitively in order to minimise any further trauma. You won’t be pushed into talking until you’re ready to.

Witness statements

There may not be any witnesses to the abuse or sexual assault, but if it happened in the workplace or out in public, someone else may have witnessed the incident. If you have their details or can contact them, pass them to your personal injury solicitor.

In the case of historic sexual abuse, there may be further victims who could be willing to give a statement; family members may have noticed ‘odd’ or worrying behaviour on the perpetrator’s part, such as inappropriate sexual activity; and you may have told a friend or a partner previously about what you had suffered. The account of any of these individuals will be important in sexual abuse cases.

Video, CCTV and photographs

Think about where the incidents happened. If there’s a chance that there may be video evidence or any photographs that may help your case, see if you can get hold of them; or tell your personal injury solicitor who can make enquiries.


UK police recorded more than 200 child sex offences, on average, every day in the 12 months to 31 March 2020. 73,518 offences including rape and sexual assault against children in the UK were records. This represented an increase of 57% over the previous five years


How can compensation help you?

No amount of compensation can change the past and avert any further psychological and emotional harm. But it can help you on the road to recovery and provide some sense of justice – validation from being believed and that the pain and suffering caused to you as a result of sexual abuse or violence has been recognised.

It can take years to come to the point where you’re mentally able to take the first steps to claiming compensation. Submitting a claim can be a daunting prospect, but with the help and support of trained legal advisors you can start your claim today. Simply call 0800 234 6438 for a no obligation consultation with specialist solicitors or use the contact form here to arrange a call back.


A 59-year-old woman has been awarded a 6-figure compensation payment for historic sexual abuse carried out by a lay vicar when she was an 11-year-old school girl. The former Church of England vicar was convicted of several sex offences and served 2 years in prison.


Can I claim for psychological trauma caused by sexual abuse?

Sadly in most sexual abuse cases, particularly where it happened over a sustained period of time, the emotional and psychological damage is profound. There might not be any physical injuries, but there could be a disabling mental injury which could include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – including nightmares and flashbacks and sleep problems
  • Emotional difficulties in forming close relationships
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Anger and feelings of shame.

It is fair and just that where legally possible, the victim has the opportunity to claim sexual abuse compensation. It’s reassuring to know that the law recognises the mental and emotional harm caused by sexual abuse. This means that you can make a specific claim for the psychological harm and mental ill-health caused.

The amount of sexual abuse compensation you may be awarded will depend on a number of factors, including your age when the abuse happened; whether the abuser was in a position of trust; and how often the assaults took place.

Will I need a specialist report?

Yes, if you’re claiming for psychological harm caused by sexual abuse or sexual violence, a specialist medical report from a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist will be needed. The expert will talk you through what happened to you and the impact on your life, then write their report. This will be important medical evidence to support your claim.

You don’t need to worry about what you need to do as your solicitor will arrange this for you at the right time. Nor do you need to be concerned about the cost of the report – it will be covered under the terms of your conditional fee agreement.

Am I entitled to claim criminal injuries compensation?

For many victims, it’s not possible to claim sexual abuse compensation through the courts because the perpetrator has no money to pay out any compensation or they may have died. However, the innocent victims of sexual abuse and sexual violence have the legal right to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

The CICA is a government-run criminal injury compensation scheme which will pay compensation for criminal injuries – both physical and psychiatric injuries and ill-health – even in cases where the attacker has not been identified. A challenge, however, is that sexual abuse compensation claims to the CICA must usually be made within 2 years of the crime.

You may be concerned that you won’t be able to claim compensation if the perpetrator has not been charged or convicted of a crime. However, if you’ve reported the offence/s to the police you may be able to start a no win no fee claim to the CICA compensation scheme. If you’re eligible, the CICA will look at the police evidence and other evidence before allowing your claim.

In the case of historic abuse that had been reported at the time, you will need to satisfy the CICA why no claim was made to the compensation scheme within the two year limitation period. Extensions can be granted if there are exceptional reasons behind the delay.

Conversely, if the abuse was not reported within two years, strictly-speaking you would be outside the 2-year limitation period. However, the courts have ruled that the CICA cannot reject sexual abuse claims where the abuse happened before 1979 and the abuser lived under the same roof as the victim.

How much compensation could I get for historical sexual abuse?

In a successful claim to the CICA, the amount available is fixed (unlike in ‘normal’ compensation claims where the range of potential compensation is wide). The tariff includes:

  • Where there was a pattern of repetitive frequent severe abuse by one or more attackers over a period of up to 3 years – £6,600; and 3 years or more – £8,200
  • The most serious sexual abuse or assault causing severe mental illness – £44,000
  • A pattern of repetitive incidents involving penetration by one or more attacker over a period of up to 3 yrs – £16,500; and more than 3 years – £22,000

Also, the CICA’s tariff recognises that the victim may have suffered both physical and mental injuries. Here, the victim is entitled to an abuse compensation payment for the assault or injury attracting the highest payment under the tariff. Where there was a pattern of abuse, payment will normally be based on the most serious incidents that occured, rather than for each separate incident.

To find out more about making a claim, telephone 0800 234 6438, or if you prefer, ask for a call back using the claim form here. A personal injury solicitor will be able to explain what the best course of action is for your case and will help you make your claim on a no win no fee basis.

What can I claim for?

You may be wondering, how much compensation will I be entitled to as a result of the sexual abuse I suffered? If your solicitor makes a claim to the civil courts – for example, against an institution or organisation – the amounts available vary significantly, depending on the circumstances and the impact on your life. This means it’s difficult to give an early indication this early on.

However, you can be sure your solicitor will work to secure you the maximum compensation possible. Compensation will be for your actual psychological injuries – and any physical injuries if you’ve suffered physical injury or illness as a result of the abuse. This is called ‘general damages’.

You may also be able to claim for specific financial losses, known as ‘special damages’.

General damages

Your general damages in a civil claim will be calculated depending on various factors, including your age/s when the abuse took place; where it happened; who the perpetrator was; and the nature and extent of the impact on your life.

Helpfully, there are formal judicial guidelines from the Judicial College which lawyers refer to calculate the compensation the victim may be entitled to. That said, in the case of sexual abuse over a period of time, it can be difficult to give a guideline figure.

However, the latest edition of the guidelines (2022) provides for a higher amount of compensation where psychiatric harm is caused and abuse has been involved. This means you could get more than you may have done previously. The guidelines suggest:

  • Severe psychiatric harm – £45,000 to £120,000
  • Moderate – £20,570 to £45,000
  • Less severe – £9,730 to £20,570

In a recent case (AB v The English Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers [2022]) the victim suffered persistent sexual, physical and emotional abuse by teacher at a residential school over a 12-month period in the early 1980s. He was awarded £20,000 for the period when the abuse occurred and £75,000 for the wide-ranging consequences on his mental health (including future consequences).

Special damages

If you’ve had to have time off work or had to pay for therapy or other treatment as  a result of the abuse, you can also claim for ‘special damages’.  Your solicitor will ask you about your financial losses before calculating how much to claim. For example,

  • Lost earnings – If your working life has been affected as a result of the abuse and you’ve lost out on pay (eg you’ve had to have time off for anxiety or PTSD)
  • Therapeutic costs – Such as CBT, counselling or other therapies
  • Future therapy – The expert psychiatric report may recommend you have additional treatment to help in your recovery. Your claim can include the anticipated costs of this.
  • Cost of medical treatment – For example, where you have internal injuries that need further surgery or treatment

Your solicitor will work hard to negotiate a fair amount of compensation that you deserve for what you’ve been through.

DID YOU KNOW: In the year to March 2020, 1.8% of people aged 16 to 74 suffered sexual assault in some form
SOURCE: Crime Survey for England and Wales

How long do I have to claim?

The general rule in most personal injury claims in the civil courts is that proceedings should be started within three years from the date of the incident – otherwise they may be ‘time barred’. However, the rule is not much help in most cases of sexual abuse because the abuse often took place over a period of time and it can be months if not years before the victim begins to understand that what happened was sexual abuse.

In these cases, the 3-year time limit starts from the time when you could reasonably be expected to know that the incident/s caused your mental ill-health.

However, many historic sexual abuse claims will usually be made to the CICA where there is a 2-year limit. But as explained, an extension may be granted in exceptional circumstances (see above) or where the victim is under 18.

If the victim is still under 18, the three-year time limit for civil sexual abuse claims does not start to run until they reach 18. And if the individual lacks mental capacity, the three-year time limit is extended – it does not start to run unless and until they regain their mental capacity.

If you have any doubts about the time limits, don’t worry – simply talk it through with specialist abuse solicitors who can explain your legal rights. Just call 0800 234 6438 for a free initial consultation or request a call back here.

In October 2022 Gordonstoun, a prestigious Scottish boarding school, agreed to pay a £400,000 compensation settlement to a former pupil who was allegedly sexually assault and beaten by a teacher during the 1990s.  The school denied liability.

SOURCE: The Guardian

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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