Sexual Abuse Claims

The Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse

Before looking to proceed with a claim, it is important to understand what is sexual assault and the difference between sexual assault and sexual abuse. The two terms can sometimes overlap in common speech but, legally, there are clear distinctions.


In regards to the sexual abuse law, this will typically apply to sexual acts carried out on minors or anyone who is judged to be incapable of sexual consent. It can also relate to ongoing instances of abuse carried out by a person in authority with a responsibility for the victim.


If we look at the sexual abuse definition, this will typically relate to a sexual act carried out on an adult without their consent.


Types of Sexual Abuse

There are different forms of sexual abuse which could ultimately lead to grounds for a claim. The following is not an exhaustive list but it does include the most common cases of sexual abuse in law:


  • Rape 
  • Other forced sexual behaviour without consent
  • Indecent exposure and other forms of exhibitionism
  • Stalking
  • Human Trafficking


To confirm, this is not a complete list and if your specific case does not fall into one of those categories, we would suggest getting in touch with sexual assault solicitors right away.


How to Report a Sexual Abuse Case?

In order to proceed with any claim, it’s important to understand how to report a sexual abuse case in Ireland. Essentially, there is only one starting point in this instance and that’s with the local Garda. All sexual abuse cases are traumatic and, with this in mind, all Garda forces have a Sexual Abuse and Treatment Unit (SATU) on hand. The officers in charge of the case would look to bring the victim to the SATU with a view to gathering forensic evidence and establishing whether there is a case to be answered.


The Garda will then go about their duties in regards to following up a successful prosecution. In the meantime, a potential claimant can contact sexual assault solicitors with a view to pursuing compensation. The criminal case is, however, pivotal in relation to following up and making a successful claim.


How are Sexual Abuse Cases Proven?

For cases to be upheld, there is a burden of proof in sexual abuse cases and the responsibility in Ireland is to establish that proof. This is why it is important to follow the correct procedures in regards to making a claim for sexual abuse.


When we ask how are sexual abuse cases proven, it essentially comes down to making a successful criminal prosecution of those responsible. In historic cases where perpetrators may have passed on, the court procedure is still followed and a guilty verdict needs to be given. Pursuing a claim for compensation relies on that proof being established and this is where the Irish court system takes over and makes their judgement.


Sexual Abuse in the Irish Army

Sexual abuse law relates to all areas of civilian and professional life and there have been previous cases of abuse and assault within the Irish Army. The process in regards to following up a claim is similar so, anyone who has been the victim of a sexual assault in this setting will need to adopt the same paths.


Reporting to senior officers not directly involved in the case is the first step in the process. The system demands that allegations of sexual abuse and sexual assault must be investigated and, if proven, there are grounds for a subsequent claim.


Abuse in Irish Garda Force

Sexual abuse cases have historically taken place in the Garda and this is another area that your solicitor can assist with. Once again, there is a procedure to follow in relation to Garda sexual assault and the mechanics are similar to other cases listed above.


This means reporting the incident to the most senior officer not directly involved in the alleged abuse. Once that initial referral has been made, an inquiry can begin. A garda trial for sexual assault would potentially be required and, if there is a guilty verdict, there is a case for your appointed sexual assault solicitors to pursue.


What are the Legal Time Limits for a Sexual Abuse Claim?

In very general terms, the claimant has a limit of six years in which to bring their case to sexual assault solicitors. This period runs from the date of the assault and it is an important time frame to keep in mind.


However, there is provision within Ireland’s Statute of Limitations for this limit to be extended. It is acknowledged that with some historic sexual abuse claims, the victim is unable to speak about the incident for a number of years. This can commonly apply to child sexual abuse but in cases that are so traumatic, there can be other reasons why the victim is unable to speak up immediately.


In summary, while sexual abuse claims can be more straightforward if they are referred within that six year period, we would urge you to get in touch with sexual assault solictors irrespective of the date of the incident.


Why Choose McGinley Solicitors?

Sexual abuse claims are extremely distressing for the victims so it’s important to choose your representative wisely. Sexual assault solicitors should be experienced, professional and sympathetic in order to bring this type of claim to a swift conclusion with a higher chance of success.


McGinley Solicitors were established in 1988 and can therefore bring over 30 years of experience to your specific case. We have a professional team and a flexible approach with three offices based across Dublin and Donegal. An initial assessment would be followed up with a more in depth consultation and from that point we can identify more specific points of the claim such as projected time frames and potential compensation levels. 


For an initial discussion, please call us on 1890 998 969 or fill in our simple online form and we will be in touch. 

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