Non recent or historical sexual abuse is when an adult was sexually abused as a child or young adult or when the incident happened some time ago.
Sometimes people who have experienced sexual abuse in their past blame themselves or were made to feel it was their fault. It is never the survivor’s fault and they are not responsible for the actions of others. The perpetrator is responsible for their actions.
A child who was abused might not have known they were being abused at the time. Whether the abuse happened once or hundreds of times, a year or 50 years ago, whatever the circumstances, there’s support to help survivors of sexual abuse. It’s never too late to report historic abuse, but you do not have to if you don’t want to.
Some people report non-recent abuse to stop the offender abusing other children. Some find that reporting gives them a sense of closure and helps them to start moving on.
Investigating historical abuse can be a complex and difficult responsibility. The only source of information is likely to be the account of the victim and possibly corroborating witnesses. The passage of time is likely to impact on the clarity of the detail recollected. Importantly, there may be information contained within social care records, medical records, letters or diaries which could assist the investigation.
The delay in reporting an allegation of abuse should not in itself be considered as a factor in deciding whether the allegation is founded. There are many valid reasons why the victim may have felt unable to disclose at the time of their abuse. Sometimes victims may be unsure if it was sexual assault or abuse as they feel unsure about if they may have given consent, or they may have ejaculated or orgasmed (both of which are normal bodily responses to a stimulation). It is recognised that fear of being disbelieved, not taken seriously, fear of the perpetrator, retaliation, shame and embarrassment have all been factors which have prevented victims from disclosing.
If you do decide to, you can speak to the police about what happened to you. You can report abuse to the police no matter how long ago it happened. You can start by calling 101 and briefly explaining what you’re calling about. They’ll make sure you’re put through to the right team who can support you or you can provide anonymous intelligence. Your ISVA can help you to do this.