Getting rid of the stigma: What is the law around Sexual Abuse?
Abuse seems to be an underlying theme in many child and family cases. It is something that we as professionals see on a daily basis, whether the abuse is directed at a child or a parent, and it is one of the reasons why Social Services are involved with families. Abuse can take many forms, one being sexual abuse. This is classed as unwanted sexual activity where the abuser is using force and/or threats and taking advantage of their victims who are not willing or able to give consent.
Sexual abuse is common in all ages and genders and can be a traumatic and life changing event for the victim and in fact, 90% of victims already know the abuser. Sexual abuse and sexual assault are two different things and can be easily confused.
- Sexual assault is where the threat is immediate, infrequent or of a short duration.
- Sexual abuse is sustained over a period of time, abusive sexual behaviour, where the victim is often penetrated using force without giving or being able to consent.
KEY FACT: Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men experience rape, attempted rape or sexual assault by penetration (in England and Wales) every year. To put this into perspective, that is 11 victims every hour.
If the Local Authority has concerns about sexual abuse, they may take steps to become involved with your family or, where they believe the risk to be high, to remove your children from your care. In some cases, children may experience sexual abuse from parents. For example, sharing photos/videos of their children to paedophiles or committing sexual acts on their children or forcing the child/ren to commit such acts. As well, it may be that their parents have failed to protect their child from sexual predators such as a sibling, parent, family member or friend, who have been turning a ‘blind eye’ to what is happening.
KEY FACT: Around 1 in 20 children are sexually abused.
Please see some of the following charities and organisations who aim to help vulnerable people who have been subject to this abuse: Rape Crisis in England and Wales, Safeline, NSPCC, Survivors UK and The Survivors Trust.
If the Local Authority do become involved, Ridley & Hall will be able to support you along the way. At Ridley & Hall, we treat our client’s as people, we break down the barriers of ‘typical’ solicitors and build a rapport with clients to ensure that they feel supported and important. Please do not hesitate to contact Natalie Stephenson-Quayle via our freephone 0800 8 60 62 65.
If you need help dealing with any of the above or your mental health, you can go to your GP for a referral or, you could get in touch with one of the following organisations who will be able to get you the help you need: Mind, Barnardo’s, Well Women’s, Andy’s Mans Club and Child Line.