Family Abuse

Family abuseAbuse within the family dynamic can encompass a number of different abuse types, with everything from domestic violence to sexual exploitation taking place within a family home.

Any member of a family can perpetrate, and be the victim of, family abuse – it is important that perceptions of abuse in the family are not limited to seeing children as the sole victims and parents as the only perpetrators.

It is also important to understand the secrecy with which offenders operate; in many cases most members of a family will be unaware that abuse is taking place – it is likely that knowledge of the abuse is limited to the victim and their abuser.

Due to the emotional trauma caused by family abuse it can be difficult to know where to turn if you are a victim of, or you witness, abuse by a family member; however, it is crucial that such abuse is reported.

As with any case of abuse, the most important factors are stopping the abuse, seeking justice against the abuser, and recovering from the traumatic experience.

Examples Of Family Abuse

Family abuse can refer to a number of different types of abuse, including:

A family member can become an abuser at any time and in some cases a trusted loved one can suddenly change and become a perpetrator of violent or sexual abuse. Due to the trust that is built by families, family members can be more susceptible to abuse and more vulnerable than other members of society.

Some examples of the ways in which a family member could abuse a relative include:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may fall under domestic abuse and involves controlling an individual through physical means. Physical abuse usually manifests itself via contact that is intended to intimidate an individual and usually results in pain, injury, and other physical harm.

Emotional Abuse

Perhaps more difficult to spot than physical abuse, emotional abuse – also known as psychological abuse – does not leave a mark on its victim. Emotional abuse usually manifests itself via verbal abuse with the express intention of humiliating an individual and making them feel worthless. Other actions that could be constituted as emotional abuse include making threats, abusing other family members in front of an individual, or ignoring someone completely. Emotional abuse is usually used to try and gain psychological control over a family member, usually with the intention of exerting control and power.

Sexual Abuse

Family members can commit sexual abuse, with this act sometimes being categorised as sexual exploitation. Sexual contact is not necessary for sexual abuse to take place and many examples of sexual abuse do not include contact between victim and abuser, for example grooming or introducing a victim to another abuser.


Neglect is a form of abuse that is usually categorised by families failing in their duty of care to a child. Neglect normally stems from an unwillingness to provide for the needs of a child and can result in a child being left hungry, dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, and medical or health care.

Tackling Abuse

Tackling abuse in the family can seem like a daunting task; however, it's so important that family abuse is tackled. In many cases, a cycle of abuse can appear that consists of abusive practices that can be passed on between generations. An end to this cycle can only come if abuse is tackled head on.

Filing A Police Report

Tackling abuse begins with reporting the crime to the police, which in itself requires a huge amount of bravery from victims who have been emotionally tortured by their abusers. Speaking to the police is the only way to bring a criminal prosecution against an abuser, which is the best way of putting an end to the cycle of abuse.

The immediate steps taken by the police after you file a report will be to gather evidence; they will conduct witness interviews and gather as much physical evidence as possible – this may result in forensic evidence being collected.

The police will present all gathered evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS will judge whether the case is strong enough and will decide whether there is enough evidence to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Only if this high threshold is met will criminal charges be pressed against an abuser.

If charges are pressed a court case will ensue, during which the police liaison officer and investigation team should provide emotional support if you are forced to submit evidence to the court.

Care Proceedings

In some cases of family abuse, care proceedings are required to protect children who have been caught up in the cycle of abuse. Care proceedings normally involve a local authority and are focused on supporting the welfare of a child.

Care proceedings usually result in a child being taken into care, which is why care proceedings are sometimes referred to as 'public children' matters.

Care proceedings are particularly prevalent in cases of family abuse, as it is likely that children are affected by the abuse, even if they are not victims themselves.

Protected by the Children Act 1989, care proceedings are sought in cases where a child's wellbeing, safety, or physical and mental state is in jeopardy.

As an established national firm, Simpson Millar has a strong reputation of aiding families during care proceedings and will always act on behalf of the most vulnerable members of a family.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is run by the Government and is designed to compensate for the physical or psychological harm caused by being the victim of a violent crime.

While compensation will not repair the damage done to a family by abuse, it can go some way to helping victims get their lives back on track. Mitigating the loss caused by an abuser can help victims to recover and can ensure that they receive the best level of care and support when recovering from their injuries, whether they be physical or psychological.

Compensation via the Government Scheme can be claimed even if an assailant was not convicted of alleged crimes. There are a number of reasons why an assailant is not sentenced for an alleged crime; no matter what they are, a compensation claim can still be filed to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), who will judge the case on the merits of compensation and will make an award according to presented facts.

We can help victims of family abuse make an application for compensation to the CICA, who may receive compensation that will help them repair the damage done by an abuser. A claim via the CICA is advisable for victims who are not eligible to make a civil claim but still feel wronged from being a victim of abuse.

Civil Claim

In some cases of family abuse a civil compensation claim can be made against an abuser. Compensation claims relating to abuse will normally apply to child abuse where an institution or organisation failed in its duty of care. Despite this, civil claims can be made against an individual and it is possible to sue your abuser for damages.

Civil claims can be made independently of criminal proceedings and an individual is not required to be found guilty in a criminal court for a civil claim to be made. In some instances a civil claim will be settled before it goes to court, meaning that you will not need to go through the process of submitting evidence or facing your abuser in court for a second time.

In cases where a settlement is not reached before a court date, a judge will rule on the facts of the case, without the assistance of a jury. The judge will hear evidence from both sides of the dispute and will make a ruling on the civil claim according to the strength of evidence.

Let Us Help You

Compensation claims, either through the CICA, or via a civil claim for personal injury, can help to gain justice against an abuser in cases where a criminal prosecution was not passed, or if the abuser has died since the abuse took place.

If you have been the victim of abuse at the hands of a family member it is important that you build a trusted support network. Our team of compassionate abuse law specialists will help you every step of the way and will be an understanding point of contact while you take the steps necessary to recover.

You can get help from us on various subjects, free of charge

To get in touch with us click the email link, or fill in our Contact Form

You can also read our free legal help pages - Free Legal Help