In a rare move, a well-known Cypriot actor and radio producer has come forward to name his abusers to police as historical sexual assault cases pile up.
Following a wave of sexual assault complaints against Greece’s ex-theatre director, another abuse case is linked to Cyprus’ acting community.
Actor Andreas Phylactou came forward this week to report he was a victim of sexual abuse, the first male actor to do so in Cyprus.
Phylactou revealed to a TV talk show he was sexually harassed by the former director of Greece’s national theatre Demetris Lignadis.
Lignadis is charged with sexual abuse and two rapes, including that of a 14-year-old boy.
The Cypriot actor said another incident took place in Cyprus involving someone else.
Following his revelations, Phylactou was encouraged by Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis, whom he met on Tuesday, to share his experiences.
“I think today’s meeting was very important because I also feel there is goodwill to take substantial steps,” said Phylactou after meeting the Minister.
“I decided to report the incident because it is a heavy burden to carry inside you for such a long time, eating you up, blaming yourself, trying to justify it, while it keeps you from evolving as a person.
“There is no reason to be afraid to speak out. There are procedures that protect you. There are people who want to protect you and justify you. All you have to do is talk to someone.”
Yiolitis said that sexual harassment involves victims of any gender, age, or sexual orientation.
“Undoubtedly, there are a smaller number of cases registered by men; among other things, women find it relatively easier to report such crimes,” said Yiolitis.
She added: “Unfortunately, social stereotypes work negatively and often do not allow the man to be the victim.”
Earlier Tuesday, the Minister met Assistant Chief of Police Stelios Papatheodorou and the head of the team handling sex crimes under investigation.
Yiolitis said: “Unfortunately, these cases have increased sharply in our small society.”
“It is an indication that victims now find the courage to speak out.
“The encouraging thing, however, is that there are now specialist teams handling cases with expertise and confidentiality to which people can turn to”.
Police are investigating 16 cases of sexual assault.
They involve allegations against sports officials, two priests, a doctor, a former Euro MP, and others.
Many were encouraged to come forward after Olympic shooter Andri Eleftheriou officially filed a complaint against her abuser.
Eleftheriou, now 36, said she did not file an official complaint until years after fearing that nothing would be done.
Yiolitis convinced the Olympiad that police would take her claims seriously.
“The chain of silence must be broken.
“I appeal again to all those who have suffered sexual harassment or violence to find the courage and report their cases to the authorities, as Andri Eleftheriou did, which I believe gave rise to many others to speak out.”