THE HEROINE OF RIO 2016 IS CHILEAN

All over the world, but especially in Latin America, we are living the Olympic fever.
The images of Brazilian gorgeous beaches, mixed with the spectacular performances of the Olympic athletes, offer a complete joy.

Everything seems to be about virtuosity, perfection, points, evaluations, competition at the best level. The Chilean team is both skilled and passionate, and in spite of the lack of resources that they all suffer -- coming from a country with other urgent social priorities -- they embrace the challenge with excellence and dignity, and with an enormous love for the Chilean flag.
But the most prominent -- and heroic -- of all our team members is our "Abanderada", the Athlete (runner) Erika Olivera. She was chosen as the representative leader of the Chilean team for her great athletic record sustained along the years.

But days before leaving for Rio, she confessed a terrible truth that she had hidden all her life.
In fact, she revealed to Sábado Magazine of El Mercurio that when she was a child, she was sexually abused by her stepfather, and for many years. She told the interviewer, Rodrigo Fluxá, that she began to run just to escape this horrible reality, and that her mother knew what she was suffering but did nothing.

She decided to speak now because she was sick of seeing her stepfather brag about her achievements in front of the media. But specially because she was tired of lying about her life. She also filled a lawsuit against her stepfather; but he escaped, 24 hours after the article was published, to Argentina.

Sexual abuse on children is a terrible reality that is not uncommon in our region. And unfortunately, silence is a common answer. Erika's case should set a path for many young children suffering from physical violence, but also from the equivalently harmful psychological violence of silence, shame and loneliness. In fact, is frequent that child abuse is committed by close figures, such as teachers or relatives, which makes it much more difficult for him or her to speak and specially to find within their own family the safety and protection required under those circumstances.

Often, the fear of being rejected, stigmatized, discriminated, makes victims avoid the devastating but necessary step that Erika gave.

So to prevent situations like this, we must fight the culture of silence and denial that allows these awful realities to remain unpunished. Second, every country should treat these crimes as a legal priority. If the victims speak after years of silence, the most likely outcome is that these cases will end without judicial sanction. This is a drama in which the law must adapt and evolve, so that at the end of this road there is no impunity.

And finally, every time we watch Rio Olympics the days, we should admire the enormous resilience and courage of the Chilean Leader.

The horror Olivera suffered may be alleviated by the possibility of leaving a lasting legacy in Latin America -- and all over the world -- for people who have suffered -- or are suffering -- like her, and have not been able to speak yet.