Childhood abuse: support

Last updated: 15 April 2019

Talking about abuse that happened to you as a child – either physical, sexual or emotional – can be difficult.

Even as an adult, it's possible for memories and feelings to resurface that cause anxiety and distress.

It's important to know that what happened to you was not your fault. You can get support whether or not the abuse was reported to the police, even if it was a long time ago.

Find support if you're currently under 18 and a crime happens.

What is childhood abuse?

Childhood abuse is the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of a child. It can happen once or over a period of time, and could happen within and outside the family.

Sometimes this is called 'historical abuse' or 'non-recent abuse'.

Telling the police

Only you can decide whether or not to report the abuse to the police. If you do, they will do everything they can to make sure you get the right care and support.

Call the police on 101, or in an emergency phone 999.

You can also contact Crimestoppers, a charity that helps people report crime anonymously, on 0800 555 111. They'll pass the information about the crime to the police.

If the person who abused you has died, you can still report the crime to the police who will take your claim seriously and investigate the crime.

You can find out what will happen after you tell the police on the Police Scotland website.

If you don't want to contact the police

You can still get support if you don't want to contact the police. No-one can make you report an assault to the police if you don't want to.

Search for support services on the NHS inform or ALISS websites, or get support from an organisation below.

Find out about call charges.

NAPAC (The National Association for People Abused in Childhood)
Phone: 0808 801 0331
Monday to Thursday, 10am to 9pm
Friday 10am to 6pm
UK-wide charity supporting adults who were abused in childhood. Find support in your local area or call the support line – calls won't show up on your bill and are free from all landlines and mobiles.

Victim Support Scotland
Phone: 0800 160 1985 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm)
Provides information and support for victims of crime. It doesn't matter whether the crime was reported to the police or if the crime took place a long time ago. You can also search for victim support in your area for local help and advice.

Children 1st
Provides local support for children who have experienced abuse to rebuild their lives, and a dedicated support line for anyone abused while at Fort Augustus or Carlekemp schools. Call 0800 345 7457 Monday to Friday 9am to 10pm, weekends 12 noon to 8pm.

Speak out Scotland
Phone: 0141 332 9326
Provides support services for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Glasgow and the surrounding area, including specialist counselling, a self help group and a support helpine.

Rape Crisis Scotland
Phone: 08088 01 03 02 (6pm to midnight, 7 days a week)
Provides a rape crisis helpline and email support for anyone affected by sexual violence at any time in their lives. They can also put you in touch with local rape crisis centres or other services for ongoing support.

Open Secret
Phone: 01324 630100
Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm
Friday 9am to 3pm
Provides confidential support to individuals and families impacted by childhood abuse or trauma. Most services are based in the Forth Valley area, but some are available throughout Scotland.

Ritual Abuse Network Scotland (RANS)
Phone: 01382 224737
Confidential support and information for survivors of organised/ritual abuse, including a survivors forum.

Your rights

As a victim of crime, you have rights. The Victims' Code for Scotland sets out these rights and who to contact for help and advice.