Former Hockey Star Talks About Sexual Abuse as a Teen

To the outside world, Theo Fleury was a flashy Canadian hockey star who had it all. He’d been named to several NHL All-Star teams, won the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989, and made a ton of money doing what he loved. Yet, the inner world of Theo Fleury was filled with torment and anguish. All the while he was playing professional hockey, he carried with him the burden of being sexually abused by his mentor and hockey coach, Graham James. He tried to put the sexual abuse behind him and forget about it by abusing drugs and alcohol. He’d even attempted suicide by putting a loaded gun in his mouth in 2004.
Finally, this year he revealed the secret burden that had been tormenting him for years. He’d been sexually abused by his coach when Fleury was 14 years old. The abuse lasted two long years. Now, at the age of 41, Fleury is ready to deal with the sexual abuse issue that fueled his dependency on drugs and alcohol, shortened his hockey career, and wrecked a marriage. Even after writing his autobiography in which he recounts the abuse, Fleury is still uneasy about discussing the issue. In an interview about the book, Fleury told the press that he decided to talk about his own abuse in order to help other victims deal with sexual abuse issues when they were teenagers. Playing with Fire has lead some abuse survivors to reach out to Fleury and seek professional help themselves. Fleury says he is committed to helping other abuse victims and is contemplating bringing criminal charges against his former coach.
Unfortunately, this is not a new story. Fleury’s story received media attention because of Theo Fleury’s fame as a tough hockey player. There are thousands of other sexual abuse survivors who continue to suffer in silence. Some, like Fleury, have contemplated or committed suicide. Hopefully, the courage of this new revelation will encourage other survivors to end their silent suffering and seek help.