This evening, Tori Sullivan spoke publicly for the first time about the circumstances that led her to leave Boston College in 2017. Sullivan, who played for the BC women’s hockey team from 2014-2017 before transferring to Northeastern, discussed her story with Rick Westhead of CTV. She reached out to Westhead after he helped Kyle Beach to share that he was abused by a Chicago Blackhawks staff member, which she says gave her the courage to come forward with her own experiences.
You can hear Sullivan discuss her story in her own words in the video below.
(Trigger Warning: Please note that this video and the following article will discuss sexual assault.)
Sullivan tells Westhead that in 2015 she attended a party with friends from the Boston College football team. She alleges that at this party, a Boston College football player sexually assaulted her. Sullivan further reports that on this night, the unnamed football player pushed past the boundaries she had set throughout their relationship and raped her.
Sullivan shared texts with CTV that she exchanged with the unnamed football player after he allegedly assaulted her. In them, he apologizes to Sullivan and then says “I’m scared tho that I’m going to get in trouble for this and your [sic] going to tell people I did this to you.”
As the CTV video notes, most incidents of sexual assault reported by college students are committed by someone known to the survivor. Across all genders, 90% of sexual assaults on college campuses are committed by perpetrators known to the survivor. It is estimated that between 19% and 26.4% of female college students experience sexual assault, while 43% of women who date in college report “violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, technology-facilitated, verbal or other forms of controlling abuse.”
The first person Sullivan told about her alleged assault was a Boston College teammate, who she says responded by telling her “maybe you shouldn’t have been so drunk.” Being incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol means that one cannot consent to sexual activity, and blaming the survivor feeds into rape culture that results in only 20% of female college students who are raped reporting the crime to the authorities.
Sullivan states that she continued to not receive the support she needed from her BC community following the alleged rape, and that she has since struggled with depression and alcohol abuse. Like Sullivan, 33% of students that survive sexual assault go on to experience depression, and 40% of college student survivors later use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Sullivan’s parents say that her friends were the ones to reach out to them with concerns about her, and Sullivan credits friends for calling the police to stop her from taking her own life. However, she says that she woke up the following morning with no messages of concern from her friends or teammates.
Sullivan took a leave of absence from BC in late 2016, at which point she says she was removed from the hockey team’s group chat. Sullivan alleges that a few months later, she found out that a member of BC’s coaching staff had instructed the team to block her.
Sullivan also alleges that upon her return to campus in 2017, she was told by Boston College coaching staff that she was no longer allowed to play for the team. She reports that when asked why, coaches told her “you are a disruption to the team.”
Boston College released the following statement to CTV when asked about Sullivan’s allegations:
Boston College treats any allegation of sexual misconduct with the utmost seriousness and provides extensive care, support, resources, and legal options for all of its students. This standard is met in all cases, and any insinuation that a student-athlete was not supported is patently false.
Sullivan recently requested that BC investigate her assault, but the university responded that they cannot compel the alleged perpetrator to testify since he is no longer a student.
Since graduating from college, Sullivan has spent 3 years playing professional hockey for the Boston Pride in the PHF (formerly NWHL). She has also recently undergone treatment for the alcohol abuse that she used to cope following her experiences at Boston College.
Sullivan tells Westhead that she hopes sharing her story will help relieve shame for other survivors.
For support & resources, survivors of sexual assault in America can contact RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673). Survivors in the Boston area can also receive support from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
BC Interruption encourages everyone to visit RAINN’s website to learn more about the importance of believing survivors and supporting those that have been sexually assaulted.