A victim of child abuse discusses his experience of working with Malcolm Underhill
Why should I choose IBB Claims?
IBB Claims has a dedicated team of child abuse injury specialists, independently recognised by a number of organisations, including the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Law Society Personal Injury Accreditation Scheme.
What is Abuse?
We tend to think of abuse as being child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse. However, there are many forms of abuse and it is not just meted out to the young.
Although child sexual abuse is most probably the most widely reported in the media, abuse may take by physical, without sexual overtones. Physical abuse includes restraint as well as striking a person.
It is not just positive action taken to cause harm, but also lack of action, perhaps ignoring the physical, emotional and medical requirements of a person, particularly the elderly. Neglect is often reported in care homes. Abuse of the elderly is increasingly reported in the media.
Sexual abuse may include rape, inappropriate touching and sexual harassment, as well as subjecting the individual to pornography, including photographs and video recordings.
Abuse is not restricted to the vulnerable young and old, as others can be subject to psychological, physical and financial domestic abuse.
Slavery has not been confined to the history books, with a growing number of reports of people traffickers exploiting the vulnerable from abroad. Female Genital Mutilation has also seen a growing number of reports.
Should abuse be reported to the police?
If an adult becomes aware of a child or vulnerable adult having been subjected to abuse then the person hearing of the abuse should consider reporting the abuse, or suspected abuse, to the police. Indeed, there are many rules requiring those acting in a professional or occupational capacity to make such a report to others, which may not be the police in the first instance, but ultimately, is likely to result in a report to the police being made.
Not all children are able to report their abuse in childhood. There are many who made such reports to adults (years ago) but were ignored or the matter was swept under the carpet. However, as abuse has been brought into the public consciousness over the last few years, we are seeing more and more adults come forward to report abuse perpetrated years ago, perhaps over 50 years ago. In this instance they can claim historical abuse compensation.
Nevertheless, not all survivors of abuse are able to talk about what happened to them. It is for that reason we will never know the true number of individuals abused in childhood. Even if adults are able to talk about what happened, they are not obliged to report the abuse to the police. It is a very personal decision and there is not a right or wrong answer. If, however, they are willing to take their abuser to court they can contact historical abuse solicitors who will handle the claim for them.
Can I make a claim for the abuse, even if there are no witnesses to the abuse?
It is quite common for there to be no witnesses to the abuse meted out. As a consequence victims sometimes think they cannot make a claim for compensation. However, a skilled child abuse lawyer will be able to overcome the lack of eyewitness evidence to enable the survivor to make a successful claim for compensation.
The abuser is dead. Can I still make a claim for compensation?
Although death of the abuser is likely to make the claim for compensation difficult, it may not be impossible and a specialist child abuse solicitor will advise you on the prospects of making a successful claim, even if the abuser is dead.
I have reported the abuse to the police. Can I still make a claim for compensation?
Reporting the abuse to the police does not stop you making a claim for compensation. The criminal justice system and the civil justice system, for making claims, are separate. The criminal justice system is to investigate crimes and prosecute offenders, leading to custodial sentences (in the main) for child sexual abuse. The civil justice system provides a survivor of abuse with the remedy to make a claim for financial compensation, for the harm and hurt they have suffered.
If I make a claim for compensation, what can I claim for?
No amount of money can compensate a survivor for the pain of the abuse, the impact on the mental well-being over many years, or the financial losses they have experienced, because of the abuse. However, it can go some way to improve the quality of life and to provide some tangible acknowledgement of the harm caused.
Payment of compensation can also be seen as an acknowledgement of responsibility, not just for the abusers actions, but by those who employed them (if the abuse was carried out during employment or similar role).
How much compensation will I get?
The amount of compensation is determined by the nature of the abuse experienced, the consequences of that abuse over a person’s life, the cost of private medical treatment to help them with the effects of the abuse, and financial losses, such as lost earnings, they may have lost out on because of the abuse.
Will I meet the lawyer who will handle my compensation claim?
Yes. We will arrange a mutually convenient time to meet.
The abuse happened a long time ago. Is there a time limit for bringing an abuse claim?
There are time limits for bringing claims for child abuse. However, the courts understand the difficulty people have in talking about the abuse they suffered, even when it happened decades ago. Consequently, it is possible to bring successful claims long after the abuse occurred.
Unfortunately, the time limit is not open-ended and therefore, as soon as you feel ready to speak to someone about the abuse, you should contact us as soon as possible, so not to lose out on your entitlement to historical abuse compensation, to help rebuild your life.
What should I do if I want to bring a child abuse compensation claim?
You should ring 0333 123 9099 today, for a free and confidential conversation. Please be assured, that we will treat the issue sensitively and not ask you any detail about the abuse. We only need to have a general indication of what happened to you, to advise if we can assist.
Can I phone if I have any problems?
Yes. If your lawyer is not here, then one of our assistants can take a message and we will call back. You will have our landline and mobile contact numbers. You can ring us today on 0333 123 9099.
Will you keep in regular contact with me? How will this be done?
We will keep in regular contact, advising regularly on the progress of the case and identifying milestones. We will set out what we have to do to win the case. We will write, either letter or email, whatever you prefer. We will also telephone.
How long will my case take?
Every child abuse case is different. The time to settle the case will be determined by a number of factors; whether the police have already conducted an investigation; whether there has been a prosecution in the criminal courts; whether the abuser admits the assaults and abuse; your age; and the consequences of the abuse on your life. We will be able to provide an indication of the length of time once we have spoken to you.
I cannot afford to pay legal fees. Can I still claim?
It is frequently the case that compensation claims are funded by what is colloquially known as “no win, no fee” agreements, which means you do not to have to worry about having to pay legal fees to bring a claim. Furthermore, you can protect yourself from not having to pay the other side’s legal costs if you lose, by taking out a policy of insurance, which costs nothing if you lose. Therefore, you can bring a claim without having to worry about paying legal fees either to IBB Claims or the person/ organisation you are making a claim against.
If I win compensation, will I lose my benefits?
Many welfare benefits are means tested. However, it is possible to recover financial compensation for the abuse and also keep all your welfare benefits, including future welfare benefits, by putting your compensation in a personal injury trust.
Where can I get treatment for the effects of child abuse?
There are many types and providers of treatment available for victims of abuse. Organisations such as the NSPCC and NAPAC offer programmes, counselling and support to survivors of all ages. NAPAC also offers a Survivors Forum, which allows victims to talk to others who have experienced similar abuse.
Often it is your local GP who can provide the best advice and guidance on where to go to seek treatment. They can refer you or your child to specially trained psychologists and/or play therapists who can provide you with the support needed to recover and move on with life. Young survivors of abuse will frequently be referred by their GP to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. (CAMHS).
What is Female Genital Mutilation?
Female Genital Mutilation (“FGM”), also called “cutting” and female circumcision, is widespread across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This remains so, despite legislation in many African countries.
FGM is carried out for cultural reasons, to ensure virginity before marriage. It can involve the removal of all or part of the clitoris, the labia and narrowing the vagina opening. The procedure is often carried out by women and without the girl being anaesthetised. It is painful, at and after surgery, with the girl being left with a small opening, making urination and sexual intercourse painful.
Statistics for the period April 2015 to 2016, which rely on 112 NHS Trusts and 38 GP practices providing data, reveal 5,702 recorded cases of FGM. More than half of the cases concerned women and girls living in London. About half of the victims were between the ages of 5 and 9 years.
What should I do if a child uses words, which indicates they may have been abused?
There is probably no better advice that that issued by the NSPCC.
They recommend you listen to the child carefully, without expressing your own feelings. A reaction from you may cause the child to retreat and not tell you what has happened to them. If the child indicates they have been abused, it important to reassure the child, so they know they have done the right thing.
A child will often feel that they were the cause of the abuse, that it is their fault. Abuse is never the fault of the child; the perpetrator of the abuse is the responsible person alone. It is therefore important to tell the child that they are not at fault and to repeat this message as often as necessary, to reassure the child.
Experience reveals that in the past children were not believed. Their allegations were dismissed and they were told not to say such lies. However, we now know that abuse by adults is not uncommon and therefore the child should be told they are believed and you will help them. The child will come to trust you.
However strong your feelings are, do not confront the abuser. This will not improve the situation. Focus on helping the child. The police will deal with the abuser.
Depending on the age of the child, you should tell them that you will need to report what the child has said, so that the child can receive support. The child should be reassured by the adult. When you report the abuse to others, do so as soon as possible, while the information remains fresh in your mind and, if necessary, action can be promptly taken, to prevent potential further abuse.
What is Operation Hydrant?
This is a police investigation which is coordinating historical child sexual abuse investigations around the country, with focus on abuse involving those in the public eye.
What is Operation Yewtree?
This is a police investigation set up in the wake of the Jimmy Saville abuse scandal, in late 2012. The police investigation was led by the Metropolitan and resulted in a number of prosecutions against high-profile defendants, such as Rolf Harris, Max Clifford and Gary Glitter.
Contact our compassionate child abuse lawyers today
Contact our child abuse lawyers today in confidence. We offer a No-Win No-Fee Agreement so there is no financial risk involved if you are not successful. To discuss your case or to make an appointment please contact us on 0333 123 9099. Alternatively, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online form.