Sexual abuse of children is in the "Spotlight." Yes. Pun intended.
Watch. This. Movie.
Any good movie should move you emotionally. A great movie will bring you to tears. "Spotlight" brought me to tears. No. I wasn't abused by a priest. I'm not even Catholic. I grew up protestant. I had my own religious hypocrisy shoved down my throat. Both literally and figuratively.
"Spotlight" won best picture for a reason. I'm certainly no expert on how to be a movie critic. I have no idea why a movie wins or doesn't win. Why it's nominated or not. But I do enjoy movies. Drama. Comedy. Documentaries. All kinds. But why was this movie so compelling to me? So compelling to the Academy? To the members who voted it Best Picture of 2016?
Was it the major cover up? I lived through one. The topic of childhood sex abuse? I lived through it. The idea of a few courageous people taking on an institution larger than any of us here today? Classic David and Goliath. That's me. Little me with a big mouth. Brave enough to talk about it. Ready and willing to share my story. Ready to expose every pedophile out there. Ready for the abuse to stop.
How does one go about exposing the pedophile priests aka "bad apples" of an institution that is centuries old? Ahhhh...the very powerful Catholic Church. Let's be very clear here. The church doesn't molest children. Nor does religion. Nor does spirituality. Nor your faith.
But people do.
But it's the church that hid what "they" called "bad apples." The accused priests were all put on sick leave. Should have been named "sick f**k" leave. But that's me and my mouth. The potty mouth. Makes people uncomfortable dropping all those F bombs. Never mind the actual content.
Yep. A cover up. How does anyone ever get the courage to expose such a monumental cover up? A few writers at the Boston Globe made this happen. Outsiders of the church? Perhaps. Courageous? Yes. Were many doors shut in their face? Of course. But they cared enough to put this horrific story in the "Spotlight". Not only did they expose all those priests who molested those defenseless children, they exposed the cover up by the church. I mean the people. Again. It's not the church. But the people.
Like my parents. The very people you trust to take care of you. They are no different from the priests and the cardinals. Their reputation was far more important than their children.
We all know about adults who molest children. It happens. Regardless of race, religion, income, social status, ethnicity, job title, or nationality. The list goes on. Children crave attention. Sadly, when they aren't getting it, they will accept it from anyone. And, sometimes, silently. The story of Phil Saviano is riveting. Poor kid from Boston. Happy the priest gave him attention as a kid. Made him feel "special." Nobody paid attention to him so he was happy the priest gave him extra special attention. Then it turned sexual. Then the silence. Then the guilt. Then the shame. Then the regret. Years later he finally had the courage to share his story with the press. And what did they do? Nothing. No response. Shocking.
Same thing happened to me.
I fully get it. As the baby of 4, I craved attention. Wasn't getting it from my father who left nor my mother who couldn't deal. But I did from my stepfather. Finally. Someone paid attention to me. Cheering for me on the sidelines would have been a much healthier way to give me attention but that wasn't his intention. He wanted more. Sick f**k. Lucky me. The chosen one. The guilt. The shame. The regret. The confusion. As quoted in the movie, "If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse a child." Ouch. So true.
The true heroes in this movie are the journalists who didn't stop until they had the truth. The ones willing to expose the church who covered up the abuse. The very people whom their parishioners wholeheartedly trusted. Like me. Except nobody had my back.
A pivotal moment in the story is when the journalists are interviewing the victims. "Language is important here. We can't sanitize this. We can't use the word 'molest.' People need to know what actually happened here." I was paralyzed as an 8 year old. I now have a mouth. A very big mouth.
This is no longer my story. No longer about me. I am not a defenseless child. I am a grown woman equipped with weapons of my own. No longer will my dead step father come into my bedroom and make me do the unthinkable. I'm more concerned about it happening in children's rooms today. This morning. Tonight. Tomorrow morning. The silent crime committed by your neighbors. My neighbors. Their neighbors.
This is just the beginning of a long journey. Movies are an excellent starting place to open the dialogue. The uncomfortable dialogue. Thank you to "Spotlight" for having the courage to share this story.
Wonder if the abuse will ever stop. Or simply pause. One can hope. Or will this movie get its 5 minutes of fame and then simply be forgotten? And swept under the proverbial rug. Like my mother did. Hmmm.
Not if I can help it.