It Takes a Courageous Person to Make Compensation Claims for Sexual Abuse
There is no way to disguise the fact that making adult sexual abuse compensation claims is not easy. Whether the abuse you suffered happened recently or many years ago, the trauma you experienced at the time is almost certainly going to be raised during the process of claiming compensation for being sexually abused.
Only people who themselves have been abused will understand how courageous a victim needs to be in order to make compensation claims for sexual abuse and, before you start on the path of making a claim for sexual abuse compensation, it is important to understand that your claim may not be successful.
This article explains some of the processes that are involved when making adult sexual abuse compensation claims. It does not pretend to be a comprehensive guide to claiming compensation for being sexually abused, as no publication could account for all the scenarios in which a sexual assault could take place – nor account for the private emotions you feel now.
What are Adult Sexual Abuse Compensation Claims?
Adult sexual abuse compensation claims are civil actions to recover compensation for being sexually abused. Most frequently their success relies on three elements:
- That the perpetrator has been successfully prosecuted for sexual assault
- That you have suffered a quantifiable injury
- That there are assets available against which to claim for sexual abuse compensation
Each of these areas is discussed below and, in order to eliminate any confusion about the content of this article, the procedures described for claiming compensation for being sexually abused apply to adults who have been sexually assaulted recently and to adults who were children when they were sexually assaulted.
If your child has been sexually assaulted, and you would like information about compensation claims for sexual abuse to a child, we would ask you to read our article on “Child Sexual Abuse Compensation Claims” or speak directly with an advisor on our helpline.
The Prosecution Process
The prosecution process starts when you report that you have been sexually assaulted to the gardaí. The gardaí will conduct an investigation into your allegations and prepare a “Book of Evidence” to present to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
If the Director of Public Prosecutions believes that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the perpetrator, criminal proceedings will begin and you will be required to provide evidence in court – even if the perpetrator has pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them.
The prosecution process is the hardest part of adult sexual abuse compensation claims to get through for many sexual assault victims. Making a complaint to the gardaí is an acknowledgement to yourself that you have been the victim of a crime.
We acknowledge that you may be afraid, feel vulnerable and wish to withdraw your complaint. However, you should consider that by reporting a perpetrator of sexual assault to the gardaí, you may be saving others from suffering the emotional and physical traumas you have experienced yourself.
Most frequently the perpetrator of the assault is likely to be somebody known to you or a person in a position of authority who you may have occasion to meet after a complaint to the gardaí has been made.
This may make you apprehensive about making compensation claims for sexual abuse, but many victims have reported that the prosecution process has empowered them because it sends a message to the perpetrator that you are not willing to be silent anymore.
Support is available before, during and after the prosecution process, and you can get advice on each step of the prosecution process via our claims helpline.
Quantifying an Injury
No matter how hard you have tried to bury your emotional trauma, there are many “symptoms of sexual abuse” that would be recognised by a counsellor. The need for control in interaction with other people, compulsive behaviours and other coping mechanisms are just some of the ways in which victims of sexual abuse try to disguise their inner feelings.
Your medical history may reveal illnesses which have manifested in the past for no apparent reason and a medical examination could uncover unrecorded injuries that you may not have been aware of yourself. All of your psychological and physical injuries would be chronicled and, where they can be attributed to sexual abuse, included in a claim for sexual abuse compensation.
Determining that you have suffered a quantifiable injury is not something that you have to consent to straightaway. The gardaí investigation into your claims of sexual assault may take several years to complete before a prosecution is brought and it is possible for you to claim compensation for being sexually abused. Your solicitor will be able to give you an accurate timeline as your claim for sexual abuse compensation progresses.
We strongly recommend that victims of sexual abuse seek professional counselling, and it is in the best interests of all compensation claims for sexual abuse that you undergo a psychological evaluation and a physical examination. However, you will not be put under any pressure to speak with a medical professional until you are ready to do so, and you retain the right to change your mind at any stage of the process for making adult sexual abuse compensation claims.
Making a Claim for Sexual Abuse Compensation
If the Director of Public Prosecutions considers that there is sufficient evidence to bring your abuser to court, the likelihood is that there will be a conviction and that you will be eligible to make a claim for sexual abuse compensation. Adult sexual abuse compensation claims do not necessarily need a criminal conviction in order to be successful, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
As the purpose of adult sexual abuse compensation claims is to recover compensation for being sexually abused, the first step your solicitor will take is to ensure that there sufficient assets against which to make a claim. There is no specific financial profile for sexual abusers and, as the perpetrator of the sexual assault is likely to be in prison, there may only be limited assets against which to claim.
Wherever possible, your solicitor will examine insurance policies held by the perpetrator to establish if a claim for sexual abuse compensation is viable or – if the perpetrator is a person in a position of authority – claim against their employer on the grounds that the employer´s controls were inadequate and that they failed to act on warning signs or complaints of inappropriate behaviour.
If there are only limited assets against which to make a claim for sexual abuse compensation, there are other channels available to recover compensation for being sexually abused – such as the Department of Justice and Equality´s criminal injuries compensation scheme which is administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal.
Time Limits for Claiming Compensation for Being Sexually Abused
The Statute of Limitations provides a general time limit in which you must normally bring your claim for sexual abuse compensation to court in civil proceedings. Generally, this limit is six years from the date of the assault in the case of adult sexual abuse compensation claims.
However, provisions were made in the Statute of Limitations a number of years ago to take account of a person who may not have been in a position to report an assault to the gardaí – or pursue any action in respect of the abuse they experienced – for an extended period of time.
These provisions were made in recognition that the nature of sexual abuse, and in particular the sexual abuse of a child, means that the victim is often unable to speak about the abuse for many years after an assault has taken place. Despite these provisions, courts still retain the discretion to dismiss a case on the grounds of an avoidable delay if the delay prejudices the rights of the perpetrator.
Compensation claims for sexual abuse to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal will only be extended beyond three months from the date of a conviction in exceptional circumstances – if, for example, psychiatric evaluations were still ongoing to establish the extent of your emotional trauma and the impact that the sexual assault will have on you for the rest of your life.
Speak with us about Adult Sexual Abuse Compensation Claims
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it takes a very courageous person to make adult sexual abuse compensation claims, and we believe that we have the right team of legal experts to help people to make courageous decisions about pursuing compensation for being sexually abused.
If you feel that you would be able to discuss the traumas you have experienced, you are invited to call our claims helpline at any time – day or night – and speak with one of our team who understand the sensitive nature of compensation claims for sexual abuse.
All calls to our claims helpline are completely confidential, and there is no obligation on you to act on any of our advice, proceed with a claim for sexual abuse compensation or take advantage of any of the other legal services that may be appropriate for your needs.
Our aim is to guide you through the process of claiming compensation for being sexually abused and to help with practical advice wherever possible, so that you can leave this unfortunate chapter behind you and move on with your life.