Kyle Beach story shows male same-sex sexual assault survivors face unique challenges, experts say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Those who work with sexual assault survivors said it takes enormous courage for any of their clients to speak up.

But experts argued male survivors, like former Blackhawks player Kyle Beach, face unique challenges when deciding to come forward. Beach accused the team's former video coach, Brad Aldrich, of sexual assault in 2010.

"They are always very concerned that they are going to be judged as to why didn't you fight back? Why didn't you fight harder? You're a male. You're bigger than him. Why didn't you just push him off and walk away," said Debra Perry, the director of crisis intervention and advocacy services at the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.

RELATED: Kyle Beach says Blackhakws management have not apologized in wake of sex assault scandal

Beach claimed his teammates began using homophobic slurs after word spread about the sexual assault.

Mike Finnegan, attorney for Jeff Anderson and Associates, has represented countless sexual assault and abuse survivors across the country. He said same-sex attacks add another dimension to these difficult cases.

"The shame that goes along with same-sex sexual assault often prevents survivors from coming forward," he said. "And in a situation like this for Kyle is exacerbated in a situation of professional sports where it's even that much more difficult to come forward in that environment."

The independent investigation into the Blackhawks' response to the sexual misconduct allegations found that "nothing was done" after Beach spoke up to senior leaders in the organization. Carrie Ward, the CEO of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said that's one of the reasons survivors don't speak up.

"As employers, as teams, we have a responsibility to the people that employ and oversee to keep them safe and to respond when they say they haven't been safe, especially at the hands of someone else who works for the organization," Ward said.

She said it's important for all claims of sexual assault to be taken seriously.

"Someone who discloses to you that they were sexually assaulted, begin by believing them and supporting them and trying to point them on the direction of what resources are available," Ward said.

There's help out there for sexual assault victims. The YWCA Metropolitan Chicago has a rape crisis hotline. That number is 1-888-293-2080. The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault has a list of rape crisis centers.
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