The after-effects of historical child abuse can last for a lifetime. The child sexual abuse might have ended decades ago, but its impact stretches long into adulthood. Sadly, there is no amount of money that can erase the memory of childhood sexual abuse or atone for what a victim has gone through. However, victims of historical abuse can pursue monetary compensation that can be used to cover the cost of counselling, support, and make up lost earnings. 

What Is Historical Child Abuse? 

Many different things fall under the umbrella of historical child abuse. Abuse that occurred in schools, state care, child care or youth detention centres, hospitals, churches, church-based organisations, sporting clubs, after-school care, before-school care, training farms, missions, welfare services, or any other organisation. 

Sexual harassment, exploitation, assault, and violence are all classed as historical child abuse. However, molestation, physical abuse, exhibitionism, exposure, and voyeurism are as well. For example, a person in a position of power showing pornographic materials to a child is child abuse. 

How Does This Impact Children Into Adulthood? 

Adults who experienced abuse as children often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and can also deal with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance issues, anger, physical illness, low self-esteem, disturbing memories, and even dissociation. Some studies suggest that adverse childhood experiences result in lifetime psychiatric disorder onset in a third of cases. It isn’t just mental health issues, the stress child abuse causes in a child can change the way their brain operates, alter their personality, and disrupt emotional regulation. This can all feed into impulsive and self-destructive behaviour. 

What To Do If You Are a Victim of Historical Child Sex Abuse 

Often, shame is the biggest barrier between victims and help. In the past, disclosures were often dismissed or ignored. There is effective treatment available and the Royal Commission on Sex Abuse has created the National Redress Scheme to provide victims with a voice, and a path to treatment and closure. The NRS is for victims of child sexual abuse only, whereas a civil claim can be made for sexual abuse, physical abuse, and psychological abuse. 

You can apply to the National Redress Scheme, which comes with monetary compensation, as well as a response from the institution responsible. The NRS is valuable, but it isn’t your only avenue of compensation. You can opt instead to pursue your claim in civil court. A civil claim is not capped and can provide you with a larger monetary settlement. A civil claim can be filed against the institution or perpetrator. You will need to show that the institution knew of the misconduct or should have been aware of it. You will also need to show how you have suffered as a result of the institution’s failure. 

Whatever path you take, your compensation will be calculated based on the impact the abuse has had on you and how the abuse has altered your life course. In a civil claim, the assessment will factor in the type of abuse you suffered, its severity, lost income, how your future career could be impacted, the cost of treatment in the past and future treatment costs. A lawyer can advise you which option is more beneficial to you. 

When To Seek Legal Advice 

When you file sexual abuse claims, you are making your claim against the institution that introduced you to the perpetrator. It is unlikely you will need to face your abuser unless you choose to make a claim against them directly. But, you do not need to engage with them because your lawyers will manage that process. 

You should seek advice the moment you decide to pursue a claim, whether you are thinking about the National Redress Scheme or not. A lawyer can offer guidance on which avenue is your best chance. If you have already pursued your claim and have an Offer of Redress, you should speak to a lawyer before you accept the offer. Once you accept the offer, you cannot pursue a civil claim. There are significant challenges in pursuing either option, and a legal professional is a must. 

How AJB Stevens Can Help 

If you want to file a sexual abuse claim, a family sexual abuse lawyer is a necessary part of the process. Before you make sexual abuse claims, speak to a lawyer about the sexual abuse compensation scheme. A lawyer will be able to offer advice on what documents and information you need to collate in order to file a successful claim. Additionally, they may suggest that the royal commission sexual abuse scheme is not the right avenue for you to pursue.

The scheme payouts are capped at $150,000 so you may have a better option. Get in touch with the AJB Stevens team to book a consultation and discuss your case. As accredited sexual abuse lawyers in Sydney, we can provide you with the professional guidance and compassion you deserve.