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Help if you were abused as a child

This advice applies to England

If you were abused as a child, the effects may last for many years. This page tells you how to get support.

If you were abused as a child or young person, the effects of this may continue for a long time and you may not realise the how you’ve been affected until many years later.

The options now available to you may depend on:

  • how long ago the abuse took place
  • how old you are now
  • whether there are time limits for taking a particular course of legal action.

If the abuse is ongoing and you’re 18 or over, the local authority child protection procedures don’t apply. But the abuse could count as domestic violence and you’d be entitled to local authority support as the victim of domestic abuse. If you can’t move out of the family home, you may have to contact the police to get the abuse stopped, but you may want to contact a specialist organisation before you do this.

If the abuse has now stopped, you can:

  • contact a specialist agency for support and counselling
  • report the abuse to the police. There may be ongoing police investigations about known abusers. If you phone 101, you will be put in touch with a specialist child protection team which can deals with child abuse offences committed in the past
  • consider taking court action against the abuser
  • claim compensation
  • consider medical tests for HIV
  • try to identify whether someone else is now being abused  by the same abuser, with a view to protecting the other victim
  • try to get access to local authority records which may help you to find out what, if anything, happened to the person who abused you.

Contact a specialist organisation

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) is an organisation which can provide advice to an adult who has been abused in childhood. They can refer you to local counselling, support and help groups. They also have their own helpline and produce useful booklets. You can download their free book intended to help survivors and their supporters from the NAPAC website

The contact details for NAPAC are:

Herald House 
15 Lamb's Passage

Help line: 0808 801 0331. This is free from landlines and mobiles, and the number won’t show up on a phone bill.



Rape Crisis centres

Rape crisis centres provide counselling to women who have been sexually abused in childhood. For your local rape crisis centre, go to

Next steps

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