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Childhood abuse: support

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.

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 find out about other support from survivor support organisations funded by the Scottish Government Surviors of Childhood Abuse Support Fund.

Aberdeen City Aberdeenshire Angus Argyll and Bute Clackmannanshire Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Dumfries and Galloway Dundee City East Ayrshire East Dunbartonshire East Lothian East Renfrewshire Edinburgh Falkirk Fife Glasgow City Highland Inverclyde Midlothian Moray North Ayrshire North Lanarkshire Orkney Islands Perth & Kinross Renfrewshire Scottish Borders South Ayrshire South Lanarkshire Shetland Stirling West Dunbartonshire West Lothian

If you need immediate help

If you need immediate help contact one of the following organisations. 


Samaritans provide confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day, for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair. You can contact Samaritans free on 116 123. You can also find more information on the Samaritans website

Breathing Space

Breathing Space offers free and confidential advice for people experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety, whatever the cause. Call 0800 83 85 87. Phone lines ae open from 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday; and all weekend from 6pm Friday through to 6am Monday. Calls to Breathing Space are free from landlines and from mobiles. The Breathing Space website also provides a wide range of information and advice about coping with low mood, depression and anxiety.

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.

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