Recently we were contacted by a long-time reader of Broad Street Hockey -- a sexual assault survivor -- who wanted to share her experience and her thoughts about the ongoing investigation into Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. Or, more directly, the NHL's lack of a response to that investigation and the allegations against Kane.
She has written the below piece, and she wishes to be anonymous, which we are honoring. It is graphic, so be forewarned. Please note that the below does not necessarily represent the opinion of this website or its staff, and we are obligated in the name of balance to note that while Kane is indeed under investigation for a serious crime, no charges have been filed.
That said, we feel this perspective is important, and we hope that this personal story will help inform the discussion around this difficult topic. - Travis Hughes
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I know someone in a similar position just wrote in to Anaheim Calling with the same situation, but with recent developments, I've become even more infuriated and confused. I think the more of us who come out, the better. The more voices that are heard, the more people speak up, the better the chance that these problems will be a little more understood and that they won't -- or can't -- fall on deaf ears.
The day I finally confronted my abuser after three years of sexual assault (I didn't go to the police; I still loved him and thought I was strong enough to take him on by myself), I was so broken down, emotionless and exhausted that I went to go and watch the Flyers, just to be out of my apartment, to be lost in a crowd, to see my favorite team remind me there's something beautiful in the world.
I sat alone, pressing my sneakers against the glass as the Zamboni made laps around the ice beneath me thinking, "If Zac Rinaldo has enough respect to ask Brandon Prust which shoulder he'd injured before their fight, why can't the world be like that? Why can't we all just ask before we touch?"
Having seen what's happened in the past year and a half, I don't want the world to be anything like the environment the NHL cultivates when it comes to accusations of sexual assault and women in general.
One where they'll stand behind the bashful-faced player accused of rape going, "Well, you know, boys will be boys. And he's not charged, so..."
One where the league barely raps a guy on the knuckles for beating his girlfriend to a pulp and spending the night in jail after turning himself in.
One where my favorite team's response to the awful treatment given to its ice girls is to remove girls from the ice-cleaning crew altogether, and one where that team is just as willing to put those barely-clothed girls back on the ice after interpreting the wrong message in the fan backlash.
One where the Commissioner fails to see the inherent sexism in calling Corey Perry "Katy Perry", where Dave Bolland calls Henrik and Daniel the "Sedin Sisters", where Sidney Crosby routinely gets deplorably "feminized" in multiple ways.
Where fans blinded by their loyalty to someone they've never met threaten female reporters who would dare report on the facts of an investigation into an accusal of rape -- and keep those reporters home from work, fearing for their safety.
My abuser apologized profusely after I had confronted him, but then proceeded to see himself as the victim, writing blog posts about how much his own actions had hurt him and telling me how horrible he felt. Compare this to Patrick Kane's lawyer saying how he thinks his client is the victim in this case -- a truly horrible thing to say -- and it's evident how so many people can believe in and perpetuate this kind of environment: it's because they believe it of themselves.
I shouldn't have to feel conflicted about my love for the game I've grown up watching and my morals.
And yet, I do. I shouldn't have to be reminded of it all over again and suddenly, involuntarily cross my legs while I'm sitting in the Wells Fargo Center on Kimmo Timonen night when the Blackhawks are in town and Kane is on the ice. And yet, I probably will (those kinds of phantom intrusions are like the nightmares; they won't happen for a while and then they'll come back all too real).
I love the NHL, but I don't want to give them any more of my money unless they start doing what's right by their female fans and fans who have gone through any form of sexual assault and give this very serious issue the weight it deserves by taking action.
Suspending Patrick Kane as long as he's the subject of a criminal investigation seems like a sorely-missed step in the right direction. The League can't claim their moral victory with the "You Can Play" and "Hockey Is For Everyone" initiatives, because it's not for everyone. It's not a safe space for women when this kind of thing is allowed to continue.