“Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment” and the “Additional Help System in the Institutional Sector” Funds

To support victims and survivors in the alleviation of the consequences of sexual abuse, on 1 May 2013 the federal government set up the fund “Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment” as the first part of the so-called “Additional Help System”.

Who is the fund for the family circle intended for?

The fund is to support people who have been sexually abused in their childhood or youth within the family or family circle and who still suffer from the consequences today. Included in the “close family circle” are not only parents, grandparents and siblings, but also people in the familial environment e.g. the partner of the mother or the babysitter. An overview of the group of people who are included in the close family circle can be found in the guidelines regarding benefits, which can be downloaded from the fund website (in German). The fund is intended for victims and survivors who do not receive any or sufficient benefits from the existing help system, such as the statutory and private accident insurances or payments under the Victims Compensation Act (OEG).

Which funds can be applied for?

The fund “Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment” offers various possibilities to supplement benefits of the statutory social system. A maximum of € 10,000 per person is available for these so-called “benefits-in-kind”. Up to this limit, the following financial support can be granted, also in parallel:

  • Psychotherapeutic support:
    • Continuation of psychotherapy once the health insurance funding is exhausted
    • Advance or bridge financing at the start of psychotherapy
    • Meeting the costs of psychotherapy which will not be paid for by the health insurance
    • Meeting the costs of recognised specialist therapies (including movement, music ergo, art and animal therapies).
  • Meeting the costs of individual treatment for coping with the experience. This includes reasonable expenses which are incurred when travelling to a therapeutic session, or costs incurred when using the services of self-help organisations
  • Help in acquiring remedies and aids, for example, psychotherapy, ergotherapy, spas, massages, speech therapy (medical services) and wheelchairs, prosthetic devices, hearing aids (specialist medical services)
  • Support in dealing with authorities or courts, such as for example, accompanying assistance or individual support, as long as the costs are not covered by other authorities
  • Support for training and qualification programmes, for example, meeting the costs for the completion of school leaving certificates, starting a vocational training course, apprenticeship or retraining programme
  • In addition, costs of travel to counselling centres can be met. These are determined by the clearing centre and are credited to the total sum of € 10,000 (plus additional costs on the grounds of disability if applicable). This also applies to a potential accompanying person
  • Should there be a particular case of hardship, financial support outside the regular benefits can also be granted as an exception. This includes help in improving mobility or the housing situation.

Can other victims and survivors receive help?

The fund “Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment” is aimed at victims and survivors who have experienced abuse within the family sphere.

Victims and survivors in the institutional sector cannot apply for benefits from the Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment fund. Therefore the “Additional Help System in the Institutional Sector” fund is available to them, in as far as the institutions participate in this help system.

Up-to-date information on the participating institutions can be viewed on the fund website (in German). Victims and survivors who, as well as suffering sexual abuse within the family circle were also sexually abused by a non-family member (so-called external offender), as well as those who were sexually abused both in a familial and institutional setting, can also receive benefits from the Sexual Abuse fund.

In all cases, victims and survivors should discuss their questions regarding the “Additional Help System” individually with an expert.

Which institutions are a part of the help system?

Originally, applications to institutions could only be made until 31 August 2016. The federal government and several other institutions, however, extended the application deadline. Applications to the following institutions can be made after 31 August 2016 (up until the dates in brackets):

  • the German Bishops Conference (31.12.2019)
  • the German Conference of Superiors of Religious Orders (31.12.2019)
  • the German Protestant Church including the German Diakonia (31.12.2019)
  • the German Red Cross (to the reform of the Victims Compensation Law)
  • the German Child Protection Agency (31.12.2019)
  • the Workers’ Welfare Association (31.12.2020)
  • the German Caritas Association (31.12.2019)
  • the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (31.08.2017)
  • the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (31.12.2017)
  • the federal state of Berlin (31.12.2017)
  • the federal state of Brandenburg (until further notice)
  • the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (31.12.2017)

The federal state of Berlin is participating in the Additional Help System in the Institutional Sector until 31 December 2017 for victims and survivors of sexual abuse in state institutions in the former GDR.

In the case of some institutions, it has not yet been finally resolved whether they will continue to participate in the Additional Help System.

The current overview and further information on the Additional Help System fund “Sexual Abuse” can be found at www.fonds-missbrauch.de (in German).

Funds for Former Institutionalised Children

Many children and adolescents experienced terrible suffering and injustice in care institutions in the former Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. Numerous victims and survivors expressed their interest in overcoming consequential damages suffered under institutional care in the Federal Republic of Germany between 1949 and 1975 (Institutional Care West fund) and in the German Democratic Republic between 1949 and 1990 (Institutional Care in the GDR fund) through counselling and accessing possible benefits from the funds. The application period for the Institutional Care in the GDR fund expired on 30 September 2014 and the Institutional Care West fund expired on 31 December 2014. New applications are no longer accepted.

Help for victims and survivors can be granted with both funds, providing traumatisation, other adverse effects and consequential damages from institutional care still exist today and this particular need of assistance is not covered by the existing help and insurance systems. In addition, victims and survivors should be supported in processing the time spent in institutional care. In cases where social insurance contributions were not paid during that time resulting in a reduction in the pension entitlement, financial compensation should be granted with the assistance of the fund.

Further information on this can be found at www.fonds-heimerziehung.de (in German).

Victims and survivors who were also sexually abused within the family can also apply to the fund “Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment”. Victims and survivors from institutions which are participating in the Additional Help System in the Institutional Sector can apply there. The condition for this is that the victims and survivors have not received any benefits from the Institutional Care West fund or the Institutional Care in the GDR fund. Benefits can only be granted from one of the funds.

Further information on the “Additional Help System” / “Sexual Abuse” funds can be found at www.fonds-missbrauch.de (in German).

Recognition and Assistance Foundation

In inpatient institutions for the disabled or psychiatric institutions, there were many cases of suffering and injustice in the past. Many people who were housed there as children or adolescents still suffer today from the consequences, e.g. unjust coercive measures, violence, punishment, humiliation or from financial losses because they worked in jobs there where social security contributions were mandatory but where contributions to the pension fund were not made. To support these people, the government, federal states and the church set up the Recognition and Assistance Foundation.

Applications to the Foundation can be made until 31 December 2019. The following prerequisites must be met:

  • the person concerned was housed as a child or adolescent (before reaching the age of legal majority) in an inpatient institution for the disabled or psychiatric institution,
  • the in-care placement occurred between 23.05.1949 and 31.12.1975 in the Federal Republic of Germany or between 07.10.1949 and 02.10.1990 in the German Democratic Republic,
  • during the in-care placement, the person experienced individual suffering and injustice and still suffers from the consequences of this today, or
  • the person worked between the age of 14 and reaching the age of legal majority in or for the institution, without social security contributions being paid.

The Foundation provides support through official recognition of the suffering and injustice experienced, recognition of the suffering and injustice by scientific inquiry, individual recognition through a personal talk in the advice and counselling centre as well as providing financial assistance.

The financial assistance includes a one-off lump-sum payment of €9.000 for self-determined use and, for victims and survivors who worked in jobs where social security contributions were mandatory, a one-off pension compensation payment.

Further information on the Recognition and Assistance Foundation can be found at www.stiftung-anerkennung-und-hilfe.de (in German).

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