Every sexual abuse compensation claim is different. Compensation awards vary accordingly. This makes it impossible to give an accurate valuation for damages awards without full details and, where appropriate, expert medical evidence. As a result, any online sexual abuse compensation calculator you might find will be flawed.
For that reason, we do not offer a sexual abuse compensation calculator on our website. Instead, here you can get an idea of what compensation you may be entitled to claim. This is based on the same information the courts use, so you can be confident it is accurate. We also explain other remedies you might seek.
How UK Courts Calculate Compensation for Victims of Sexual Abuse
In the UK, the civil law is designed to put victims in the pre-incident(s) position as far as possible. But it is impossible to turn back time. Instead, courts award financial damages, or compensation, to victims of sexual abuse. Compensation is awarded for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity, and other things. This includes
- psychiatric and psychological damage, and
- personal injuries
- quantifiable financial losses where proven.
1. Psychiatric and Psychological Damage Awards
Although individual cases vary, the courts in England and Wales calculate compensation for victims of sexual abuse by looking at guidelines.
These indicate that psychiatric and psychological damage of the kind suffered by sexual abuse victims can be valued at between £1,440 – £108,620 (where an expert diagnoses a recognisable psychiatric injury). This starting point for “basic damages” is broken down into brackets (severe, moderately severe, and less severe). Factors the courts consider include, but are not limited to:
- impact on the victim’s ability to cope with life, education, and work
- effect on relationships with family, friends, and others
- Treatment and the extent of its success
- Future vulnerability and prognosis for recovery
- If medical help has been given
The guidelines specifically address sexual and physical abuse claims, because they “usually include a significant aspect of psychiatric or psychological damage”. As well as the relevant factors above, the courts should note that psychiatric injury is often only one part of the damage caused. If relevant, courts should also consider:
- the age of the victim at the time of abuse and if the abuse was prolonged over time (particularly in child abuse cases)
- physical injuries
- false imprisonment
- abuse of trust
- delay and denial in recognising and accepting responsibility for sexual abuse, along with subsequent diagnosis and treatment. This can prolong suffering, resulting in higher awards. The courts should also consider the effects of abuse at the time it occurred, as well as feelings of degradation.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder guidelines are separate to general psychiatric damage. This is because PTSD comes from a specific diagnosis detailed in the 4th and 5th editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5). Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse PTSD include:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sleep disturbance
- Mood disorders
- Hyper-arousal (this can affect basic functions including breathing, pulse rate, bowel and/or bladder control)
The guidelines suggest courts value PTSD sexual abuse claims at between £3,710 – £94,470.
2. Personal Injury Compensation
Courts will also consider other personal injuries when valuing compensation. Physical assault claims relating to sexual abuse vary depending on the nature and severity of the assault. These include injuries to internal organs in some cases.
Expert medical evidence is required to prove these personal injury claims.
3. Other Losses in Sexual Abuse Compensation Claims in the UK
Sexual and physical abuse victims may also have the right to claim for other losses which can be calculated. These can include compensation for financial abuse, where an abuser has taken money or assets from a victim. (Elder abuse claims often include this.)
Other financial losses can include:
- Loss of earnings caused due to sexual abuse leading to time away from work
- Future loss of income and opportunity
- Medical expenses
- Adaptations to home and/or vehicles
- Therapy costs
- Out of pocket expenses.
Aggravated Damages in Sexual Abuse Cases
In exceptional cases, as well as basic damages for physical and psychiatric injuries, the courts can award “aggravated damages”. These are given where the defendant has
- Deliberately acted to cause injury to the victim’s feelings, and
- Where basic damages are insufficient.
Aggravated damages are compensatory, not punitive. The courts can also consider the claimant’s own conduct to reduce or eliminate aggravated damages awards.
Injury to feelings
When considering injury to feelings for aggravated damages, relevant factors include:
- using insulting language or behaviour and/ or
- distressing and/ or
- outraging the Claimant.
The courts can consider the conduct of the defendant and their legal representatives as well. If the defendant(s) acted in a “high-handed, insulting, malicious, or oppressive” way that can count against them. As can their conduct in litigation, if they persistently denied, delayed, and avoided liability throughout the case and/or trial.
Read more about aggravated damages on our police abuse page.
What Else Can I Get Help With (Apart From Sexual Abuse Compensation)?
Where appropriate, we can help you with treatment to help with your recovery. This can include sexual abuse counselling from trained medical experts and therapists.
You will also have our specialist team working hard for you. Our staff are specially trained in sexual abuse support and dedicated to fighting for justice for abuse victims. (Read more about our expert lawyers and why you should use us here.)
Possible Court Orders in Sexual Abuse Claims
Courts have wide discretion to make orders to give claimants justice.
As part of this discretion, judges can also make
- findings of liability and
- declarations to support the findings.
These are usually made in publicly available court orders and sometimes read out in open court before the media, family members, and other interested parties.
Orders like this hold defendants legally responsible for acts or omissions and can be powerful in helping innocent victims of sexual abuse come to terms with what happened.
Courts also make costs awards to help claimants pay for the litigation. (Learn about funding options for sexual abuse claims here.)
Remedies Which Don’t Involve the Courts
Depending on the circumstances, defendants might agree to a formal apology for wrongdoing as part of a settlement.
Where appropriate, they may also confirm that a full review of practices and procedures has taken place, together with training to ensure lessons are learned.
Some claimants also seek publicity so that others are aware of their experiences.
You should also know that victims of sexual assault and sexual violence may be able to claim compensation under the government’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme instead of, or as well as, the civil courts.
Every case is different, so speak to one of our lawyers to find out what remedies and compensation you could seek.
Complete the online form on this page or call us on 08000 124 246 to start your sexual abuse compensation claims today. Don’t delay! Time limits apply. Read about them here.