Sexual abuse of a child by clergymen is a horrific crime, a crime that takes place all over the world, including here in Fargo. And it can take survivors years to come forward, but one national group is doing everything they can to change that.
SNAP or, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, started in 1988 with a few members. But in the last two decades it's grown to a network of over 10,000. With 65 groups, they're trying to make Fargo the 66th, and for SNAP, the need is there.
Megan Peterson – Survivor and SNAP Volunteer: “It was life damaging. The abuse I endured shook me to the core.”
Megan Peterson was abused by her priest in Crookston for two years at the age of 14. She's one of the few who has come forward while the abuse was ongoing. Traveling the world with SNAP for the last few months, she now wants to reach out to others by starting a group here in Fargo.
Megan Peterson: “I just want to be here and do whatever I can so people can come forward and get help.”
These are the faces of kids, young teenagers at the time of their abuse. At the top is Victim's Outreach Director, Barbara Dorris, abused at the age of 12.
Barbara Dorris – SNAP Victims Outreach Director: “You're scared, you're frightened, you feel guilty. And to find out there are thousands that have had the same experience, it sort of lets you off the hook.”
For both Dorris and (last name) the most important thing a survivor can do is speak out. Call the police and talk to somebody, anybody.
Megan Peterson: “It is sad to see that this is such a big problem, but we're not naïve and we know it is a big problem. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Everything within SNAP is completely confidential, including all meeting locations and times. If you'd like to contact SNAP or donate to the cause, we've created a link on our website. Just go to WDAY.com and follow the easy link.