Calgary athlete hopes to inspire others by sharing sex abuse story

A young woman who fought to tell her story about being sexually abused by her hockey coach says she hopes to be a role model for others.

Chanelle Petrie says Theo Fleury gave her the courage to speak out

The B.C. Supreme Court has lifted a publication ban on identifying hockey player Chanelle Petrie so she could speak out about her sexual exploitation at the hands of her hockey coach. (Facebook)

A young woman who fought to tell her story about being sexually abused by her hockey coach says she hopes to be a role model for others.

Kamloops hockey coach Heidi Ferber has pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation and sexual interference after starting an affair with 15-year-old hockey player Chanelle Petrie in 2010. (Google+)

Chanelle Petrie was just 15-years-old when her Kamloops coach, Heidi Ferber, began a sexual relationship with her. Ferber pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation charges. Meanwhile, Petrie decided to fight to have the B.C. Supreme Court lift a publication ban on the case — and won.

Petrie currently lives in Calgary and plays hockey for the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Trojans.

With the support of her new hockey team, the SAIT Trojans and her parents, the five foot, six inch forward decided she wasn't going down without a fight.

"This is probably the hardest thing I've ever done, putting my name out there," said Petrie.

"But you know what? So far it's paid off greatly. It's just been completely worth it."

Hockey icon source of inspiration

Petrie says she wants to help others and found part of the inspiration to speak out from hockey icon and sex abuse survivor Theo Fleury.

"He faced his fears and I wanted to be like that," said Petrie. "One of the reasons why I came forward was to send out a message to kids who have gone through the same thing and haven't been able to come forward about it. Now they see that you can make it through and I'm that role model for them."

Thanks to an outpouring of support from fellow athletes and her family, Petrie says she decided she had to speak out  — and Fleury says he applauds her decision.

"Kudos to her for finding that courage and that strength to take this journey," said Fleury. "I wish this girl nothing but peace and happiness and hopefully she can get through this and move on and have a happy healthy life. She has a lot of support. We've got her back."

Petrie says she's already heard from a lot of people offering their support.

Many have thanked her for giving them the strength to tell their own stories. 

Despite the difficult decision to speak out, Petrie says it will all be worthwhile if she can help someone else find the same courage.

"It makes me feel grateful that I'm able to help people."