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Lawyers Can Help Victims of Sexual Abuse Achieve Closure

Victims of sexual abuse can achieve some sense of closure by seeing their attackers prosecuted and punished in a criminal court. As a High Court case showed, the civil justice system will also come to their aid and, with the benefit of specialist legal advice, they can receive just compensation to reflect their suffering.

The case concerned a young man who was sexually abused hundreds of times by an older perpetrator over a period of six or seven years when he was between the ages of 14 and 20. He suffered grave mental health problems as a result and only plucked up the courage to report the abuse when he was at university.

The perpetrator was subsequently convicted of numerous sexual offences against him and received a nine-year prison sentence. That, however, did not enable his victim to put intrusive memories of the abuse behind him and he went on to launch a civil claim against the perpetrator.

Despite his convictions, the perpetrator denied that he had abused the victim and sought to paint him as a liar motivated by financial greed. He also asserted that the victim had left it far too late to sue in that a claim form was not issued until about nine years after the earliest of the alleged assaults.

The Court, however, decisively preferred the victim's evidence. The perpetrator had taken away what should have been his happy teenage years by using him as a tool for sexual gratification. By maintaining a false defence in both the criminal and civil proceedings, he had twice effectively forced the victim to give evidence in a public forum concerning the abuse and humiliation he suffered. The delay in lodging the civil claim was explained by the victim's enduring fear of the perpetrator, his mental health issues and his wish to put the events behind him.

The victim was awarded a total of £87,748 in damages, including £30,000 for his pain, suffering and loss of amenity and £25,000 in respect of injury to his feelings and by way of aggravated damages. He was also awarded £18,400 in respect of medical costs, including treatment for a gambling addiction that arose from the abuse. The perpetrator had used gambling as part of his grooming technique to facilitate the abuse.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.