Chicago Blackhawks: Sexual Assault and What We Have Learned

Chicagoland is reeling from the news of sexual assault allegations within the Chicago Blackhawks. One of the team’s coaches assaulted a player and leadership of the team ignored the allegations for years. This horrific news shows us that professional athletes respond to sexual trauma just as anyone else does.

“The perpetrator was celebrated, paraded around. It made me feel like nothing… like I wasn’t important.” –Kyle Beach

Sean Black, Chief Projects Officer with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) described that the trust that you had in a person is completely broken. Recovering from that is a long process. He also shared characteristics we are seeing that are similar to many other sexual assault cases:

  • Institutions tend to cover it up.
  • Most people don’t believe the survivor.
  • Retraumatization is common.
  • It’s common for the survivor not to come forward until later.
  • The perpetrator is often someone known and/or someone who holds power over the other.
  • The fact that this assault happened between two individuals who identify as male is not uncommon. Sexual assault can happen to anyone.
  • Sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator (rapist).

At ZCenter, we use the simple guidelines of Believe, Validate, and Empower. 

Believe when someone discloses their experience of sexual abuse to you. Validate their words and feelings. Empower them by giving them choices.


Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center (ZCenter) is a certified ICASA center. For more information about the interview with Sean Black from ICASA, see the video here.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, please know that your local rape crisis center is here for you. In Lake County and Northern Cook County, please feel free to call our Crisis Support Line if you are in crisis after experience sexual assault. 


Crisis Support Line: 847-872-7799


Written by Kristin Jones, PhD, EdM, Outreach Supervisor

Photo by Sarah Brennan, MSW, Activism and Volunteer Coordinator


All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email

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