Responding to allegations of abuse that happened a long time ago (historical abuse)

Often, someone who has been abused cannot talk about abuse they have suffered until many years later.

This is especially true of sexual abuse, where the victim feels ashamed, or thinks no-one will believe what s/he says. These cases are described as historical ; and they are taken just as seriously as new cases. If someone has sexually abused or assaulted someone, it is highly probable that there will be other victims. If the abuser is alive, whatever the age, they are likely to pose a risk to others, now and in the future. Police, Social Care agencies and the Church are well used to dealing with historical allegations. The Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser can advise and support you in this situation.

Historical allegations of sexual abuse can come as a complete shock to members of the family and community around the alleged abuser. They may refuse to believe the allegation, and can place intense pressure on the alleged victim to withdraw what has been said and on other people not to believe him/her. The safeguarding co-ordinator should ensure that all those involved have access to support, which can come from inside or outside the church circle (but not usually from the same person, as there may be conflicts of interest).

Further Information about this can be found in The House of Bishops document.

Responding well to those who have been sexually abused (2011);

Working Together (2015 edition) explains of the roles of each agency in safeguarding children.