Late 2011, early 2012 I spoke with the police to try and understand what they knew of the abuse that happened to me as a child. I speak of the child abuse I had endured for several years at the hands of a step parent who is a paedophile. It turns out they knew a little but not much, and I asked what would happen if I had more information about what went on. They assured me it would be taken seriously.
Having just started my process of coming out of a cult I had been in for over 30 years and coming to terms with not having seen any justice for what I had endured it would take me about a year to pluck up the courage to return to the police station and give a statement.
At this time they advised me I may be eligible to compensation. At first I dismissed this idea, however as the case progressed and I was finding it hard to function on a daily basis I decided 6 months before the trial of my abuser to apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (hereafter CICA). The date I applied was 15th July 2014.
The trial commenced 5th January 2015 and my abuser was sentenced and sent to prison for the maximum the judge could serve him. Two weeks later I received a letter from the CICA saying I was not eligible for compensation as the period of time I was supposed to have applied had lapsed, and as it was historical abuse was no longer applicable.
I was extremely upset. The letter stated if I wanted to appeal I could by writing to the address on the letter, an address in Glasgow. I wrote a letter and included a newspaper clipping showing that in fact the trial had just been 2 weeks previous and therefore was in my opinion still current. I went to the address I was to appeal to only to be denied entry to the building. Despite my pleas to the security at the building I was made to feel like a ciminal myself and told that I could only send in my plea via post or courier. I opted for the latter.
They wrote me again and asked if I could justify any reason why I could not have within 2 years of my 18th birthday, and I confirmed that having been part of a cult that believed the only true justice would be served through the cult’s ideas and not the authority of the country I was living in. This was in March 2015, the same time I received a letter from Victim Support also advising I could be eligible for compensation!
In August 2015 I received their final decision which was I was not eligible. My only option if I was not happy with their decision was to ask for a tribunal hearing. I was told I could have legal representation at this hearing.
So in September 2015 I asked a solicitor to represent me and she agreed, noting that I appeared to have pleaded my case very well and she could not see any reason why I had been turned down on both occasions. And so started the legal process.
The tribunal was set for December 2016, my solicitor and a witness to explain the cult I had been in travelled from London to Glasgow for the hearing, in front of a panel of 3 individuals. I was very nervous and was questioned as was my solicitor. After their deliberation which felt like an eternity, in fact it was possibly only and hour or so they informed me that they found the hearing in my favour and I was in fact eligible to apply for compensation through CICA.
In December 2017, a whole year later my solicitor was informed that an award was being offered (minus their expenses) which applied to their band of acknowledging a criminal sexual act took place, however it was not taking into account the real damage done to me, that of long term psychological damage. Bearing in mind that by now I had on a few occasions considered suicide, this was an insult. So we once again appealed, declining their offer and asking them to reconsider the award.
Over a year later, after numerous calls to ask for updates we were informed they would like a psychological report and aranged for me to visit a doctor nominated by them. I visited the doctor in February 2019. Her report confirmed that I have PTSD due to the trauma I experienced as a child, describing the repeated sexual and physical abuse that I went through as “shocking and frightening” and stated that I am unlikely to recover.
Today is exactly 5 years since I applied to CICA and I am still to be offered an award based on the psychological damage. Legal costs are almost £38,000 and rising as the case continues. The award to someone for psychologcal damage is almost half this.
The CICA Customer Charter states they will make fair decisions efficiently and treat people with respect ( https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/criminal-injuries-compensation-authority/about-our-services#customer-charter—your-rights ), however my experience shows they are seriously lacking.
In January 2019 the Victim Commissioner published a scathing report of the CICA, so it appears I am not alone in my experience. The CICA have made me feel I am insignificant to them and they would rather I take my life before any award is given. The report here ( https://victimscommissioner.org.uk/published-reviews/compensation-without-re-traumatisation-the-victims-commissioners-review-into-criminal-injuries-compensation/ ) reflects exactly my experience. I am being re-traumatised by them, and have been for nearly 5 years now. My abuser is due for parole towards the end of this year, my life sentence will never end.