Terry Crews, an actor, former NFL linebacker and regarded as one of Hollywood’s “strong men,” opened up to a Senate Judiciary Committee about falling victim to sexual assault by the head of the motion picture department at his then-agency several years ago. His appearance was as an advocate for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which would codify certain rights for people reporting assault, like having their rape kits preserved and forensic testing subsidized, in all 50 states.
Crews’ appearance in front of the committee is a major step forward for other men who may have, unfortunately, had a circumstance where they, too, were victims of sexual assault. And it’s an important story for men to hear and understand that they’re not alone if that’s the case, with Terry Crews speaking out to help give other men confidence to do the same, acknowledging that, like women, men can experience sexual assault as well.
“This past year we have seen powerful men in Hollywood and elsewhere finally held accountable for sexual assault,” Crews said in his opening statement. “We also saw the backlash survivors faced coming forward. I wanted these survivors to know that I believed them, I supported them, and that this happened to me too.”
As mentioned above, Terry Crews coming forward to advocate support for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights is progressive on many fronts for other men, and, hopefully, it leads other guys to be unafraid in detailing their own experiences of sexual assault. Crews offered some details of his sexual assault attack to the committee, as well as his feelings and resistance to react, per Vulture.
In reporting his assault, Crews said, “I heard time and time again about the rights that my predator had, but I was never told about the rights I had as a survivor. That was the wake-up call. I knew I had to be part of what was happening here today in regard to the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights.” He added, “If you know what you can do, you can actually do something about it.”
His first reaction, Crews said, “was to be violent and I immediately held back.” Asked why, the former linebacker had a ready reply. “As a black man in America,” he said, “you only have a few shots at success, you only have a few chances to make yourself a viable member of the community. I’m from Flint, Michigan. I have seen many young black men who were provoked into violence: They were in prison or they were killed. They’re not here.”
The experience “encouraged me to come forward with my own experience and reflect on the cult of toxic masculinity,” he explained.
It’s a powerful statement from Terry Crews, with the actor also adding that “the silence is deafening when it comes to men coming forward,” he said. “As I told my story I was told over and over that this was not abuse. That this was a joke. That this was just horseplay. But one man’s horseplay is another’s humiliation.”
Hopefully Crews can start a movement that let’s men understand there’s a platform to discuss such issues, and inspire them to become advocates in this battle with sexual assault as an entire community, not just by gender. There is help out there, so know that you’re not alone when struggling with something similar, guys.