"Spotlight" Abuse Survivor Speaks in Slc

By Glen Beeby
April 6, 2016

[with video]

Phil Saviano is a sex abuse survivor whose story is featured in the movie Spotlight. He was in Salt Lake City Wednesday for a screening, and to talk about why it's important for victims to speak out.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. The first Wednesday is known as Start By Believing Day. Advocates for survivors say it's important for people to believe someone if they say they've been sexually assaulted or raped.

Saviano was the victim of a Catholic Priest in Boston and didn't tell his story until 1992. That was a time he said when survivors were often believed.

"Couple of family members criticized me brining a scandal to my home town, but I've lived long enough to see the issue turn around," said Saviano.

Judy Larson was also at the event. She was a victim of rape at the hands of her Catholic Priest back in 1957 when she was 10 years old. She didn't tell anyone until January of this year, but was surprised by the reaction of police and the church.

"It was almost surreal to have people say I'm so sorry for what happened to you that must have awful," said Larson.

An investigator even mentioned that if she had reported this in the 80's it's likely that no one would have believed her. Larson said someone just believing her made a big difference.

Saviano said it's important for people to speak out and how the first person reacts to the news can change if they go on to report it or not. That's why he is a big advocate for the Start By Believing campaign.

"Abuse thrives on secrecy and if nobody talks about it nobody is going to put a stop to it."

Larson's abuser won't end up being charged because of the statute of limitations. Although his name did get listed as an abuser no official church website.









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