Greek Athlete Confirms Being a Rape Victim in the Past
A Gold Medalist Sailor was Raped over 20 Years Ago. Now She is Helping Other Rape Victims to Find their Voice.*
Sofia Bekatorou is a successful athlete in the sport of sailing, having won a gold medal in the Olympics and the world championships in sailing four times. Such a fulfilling career might seem to be a realization of the dreams for every athlete, but her biggest achievement was accomplished just in the past few weeks. Sofia Bekatorou found the courage to speak to the public about an incident that happened 23 years ago and changed her life forever. In 1998, when she was just 21 years old, she was raped by an official of the Hellenic Sailing Federation while in Spain. She accuses Aristoteles Adamopoulos, the current vice president of the federation and current candidate to continue holding that position, who also held a high position in the federation in 1998, of raping her.
Bekatorou´s statement led to a significant scandal since Bekatorou was not the first gold medal winning athlete to level accusations of criminality towards the HSF. Fellow sailor Nikolaos Kaklamanakis came out earlier about the federation’s abuse of power, which was only exacerbated by the fact that the members of the federation hold a permanent ownership position, so accountability for criminal acts is rarely upheld.
Bekatorou said that Adamopoulos presented himself in the beginning as a friendly person that tried to help her and her colleague in this field of sport that was in a toxic environment, due to the behavior of the Federation. After a party, many members of the team returned back to their hotel, but Bekatorou happened to return with Adamopoulos. As her story goes, he kissed her on the way back, something that led to anon-responsive reaction by her. He managed to convince her to follow him in his room. There he sexually assaulted her although she made it clear that he had to stop, something that did not happen. After that she went back to her apartment and felt bad about the crime that happened. She decided to keep it to herself because otherwise that would mean the end of her career i n the sport that she loved. She had still to face that personas she continued to participate in this sport and tried also to forget about the event through the years.
After years of varying degrees of verbal and physical maltreatment by the Federation, the sailors decided to team up and talk about any negative experiences they may have faced at the hands of those involved in the Federation. Through this, and after therapy with psychologists, Bekatorou finally found the courage to accuse Adamopoulos in public. After her public statement, she was ready to handle this topic and now she is trying to make a platform for other victims of similar crimes and help them to publicly denounce their abusers. The results of her efforts finally bore fruit when another victim spoke about a crime of another member within the same federation that happened 11 years ago. That victim was only 11 years old when she was raped by her coach, who was 27. She did not tell her parents about that until she was 14. Many understood the non-supportive reaction that followed by the Federation as a symptom of blindness that is still present in Greek society.
These events spread very fast through the world. The world sailing president Kim Andersen spoke about the sad events with the Hellenic Minister of Culture and Sports Eleftherios Avgenakis. Avgenakis and also Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised to act in accordance with the law. In a first act, the government cut the financing of the Federation and demanded transparency and democratic justice to happen. Bekatorou proved to be a modern fighter by giving herself and other victims the voice that was needed to create knowledge of the abuses of the Federation and also to help victims get the help they need to cope with the events that happened to them. The Hellenic society and also all other societies from where cases of rape are reported have the duty to cut societal blindness in cases like that. The meaning of "No" must be understood by all. A very important step to making this come true is to improve the structure of every sports field by the responsible government body so as to end the suffering of many women, men, and children that were victimized and live with the consequences of that for the rest of their life.
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