High profile reports on sexual abuse cases at the hands of public figures such as Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter to name a few, have arguably helped to encourage more victims of sexual abuse to come forward.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales however, reports that as many as 56% of the victims who participated in its research were survivors of sexual assault at the hands of someone closer to home.
A friend or acquaintance was the perpetrator in 30% of incidents of sexual abuse while a family member was responsible for the sexual abuse in 26% of cases.
Emphasising the reality and depth of harm caused to victims of these crimes, a Manchester father, now aged 80, recently pleaded guilty to indecent assault and sexual intercourse with children aged 14 and under.
His own daughter waived anonymity to talk about her own abuse at the hands of her father over a period of 5 years from the age of 7, including losing her virginity to him when she was just 11 years old.
The woman suffered the after effects of the abuse for decades after her father stopped abusing her. She stated that she struggled with very low self-esteem, mental health issues and battled with an eating disorder.
The case highlights the longevity of the psychological injuries experienced by victims long after the sexual abuse endured at a young and vulnerable age had stopped.
As can often be the case, the Manchester woman stayed quiet about the incidents for 45 years before going to the police for fear of upsetting her mother who had no knowledge of what had happened to her own daughter.
This tragic story is sadly just one example of the incidents of sexual abuse that take place behind closed doors. While an increasing number of victims come forward to seek justice, many more either choose not to, or are unable to talk about it.
The Home Office has said that more perpetrators of sexual abuse are being brought to justice with a 14% rise in the number of defendants prosecuted for sexual abuse-related offences in 2015 compared to the previous 12 months.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has recently published figures that show that as many as 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales were sexually abused as children.
The growing focus on this crime can help victims find some relief and comfort from both the knowledge that more perpetrators are being brought to justice, and from hearing other victims’ accounts.
For some individuals however, it can bring back purposely forgotten, and extremely painful, memories.
How to spot if a child may be experiencing sexual abuse
The NSPCC provides advice on how to spot the signs that a child may be experiencing sexual abuse which includes unusual behaviour such as:
• Being withdrawn
• Suddenly behaving differently
• Being unusually clingy
• Aggressive behaviour
• Having problems sleeping or experiencing nightmares
• Eating disorders or changes in eating habits
• Wetting the bed or soiling clothes
• Taking risks
• Missing school
• Obsessive behaviour
• Taking drugs or alcohol
• Self-harm or suicidal thoughts
As more attention, action and support becomes available to those who have experienced sexual abuse, many victims may still continue to suffer in silence.
Compensation is available to victims through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) which receives 40,000 applications a year paying up to £200 million in compensation annually. For more information on CICA click here
Our personal injury lawyers will always advise what is best for you if you have been a victim of sexual abuse. Contact a member of our team on 0161 832 6972 or email a summary of your claim, with your contact details and the date of the incident, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can you do if you have been let down by a personal injury solicitor or claims management company?
If you have been let down through inadequate or improper conduct from a personal injury solicitor or claims management company and have lost out financially as a result, you may be entitled to make a professional negligence claim. Here’s a guide with more information on how to do this.Read our ‘guide to professional negligence claims for personal injury victims’