If you have suffered from childhood sexual abuse within the family and the case has been investigated by the police, it may be possible to claim compensation for the trauma and psychological harm caused.
A government scheme managed by the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (CICA) offers a way for abuse survivors to receive some recognition from the state by way of a tariff based monetary award. There are strict compensation claim criteria that need to be met, but the scheme on the whole is fair and just for those who are eligible to claim.
At least it is for those who suffered abuse after the 1st October 1979.
If you were one of many thousands who were abused within the home (in other words by a family member who lived with you under the same roof) before this arbitrary date, incredibly – your claim will be refused. The government have decided to draw a line on the above date prior to which they will not consider any historical abuse claim irrespective of the facts or the outcome of any police investigation.
This is endorsed under paragraph 19 within the current 2012 compensation scheme:
19. An award will not be made in respect of a criminal injury sustained before 1 October 1979 if, at the time of the incident giving rise to that injury, the applicant and the assailant were living together as members of the same family.
This bizarre and rather shameful exclusion has become known as the “same roof” rule. Successive governments have decided not to change this rule retrospectively, for cost and other reasons. This was confirmed by the last Labour Government and by the Coalition Government who reformed the Criminal Injuries Scheme in 2012.
The present Government confirmed in April 2016 that it has no plans to review the rule.
Where does this leave your claim if your circumstances fall under this ruling?
Put simply – you cannot claim compensation.
As a legal firm specialising in this area of law we have tried many times to push for cases to be considered and indeed we have sat before the CICA First-tier Tribunal which is a quasi-independent judicial body that oversees the CICA and their operations. They are powerless to act in the face of a rule endorsed by parliament.
So what can you do if you are affected by this ludicrously unfair rule?
Complain to your MP. Reform has to happen within parliament and the process will begin with your MP taking a stand and lobbying for changes to be made.