In his distinctive voice, actor Terry Crews gave resounding, powerful testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Tuesday regarding the “Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights.”
In his six-minute statement, Crews shared very personal, moving and even profound words, speaking about the “cult” of toxic masculinity, how it informed his life, how he used it and how it was used against him.
As has been widely reported, Crews is a survivor of sexual assault and said he came forward with his own story of abuse in Hollywood because “I wanted these survivors to know that I believe them, I supported them and that this happened to me too,” using the words that have become the rallying cry around sexual assault and harassment.
Earlier in his testimony, the 49-year-old actor and former NFL football player reflected on how, during his life, he used his power and authority to dominate. He also recounted how his father used to dominate and abuse his mother, and how he one day wished to grow strong to “protect her from this living nightmare.” And yet even with knowing how his father had mistreated his mother, Crews also admitted that he, as a man, believed that he was “more valuable” than women, and how they were “beneath me.”
In 2016 the Brooklyn Nine-Nine star accused William Morris Endeavor’s Adam Venit of groping his genitals at a party. Although Crews brought charges against Venit, the Los Angeles Police Department did not move forward in the case, citing the statute of limitations. Crews told the committee about the incident and its aftermath:
“The assault lasted only minutes, but what he was effectively telling me when he held my genitals in his hand was that he held the power. That he was in control. This is how toxic masculinity permeates culture,” he said.
“What happened to me has happened to many, many other men in Hollywood,” he said. “And since I came forward with my story, I have had thousands and thousands of men come to me and say, ‘Me too; this is my story. But I did not have the confidence, or I did not feel safe enough, to come out. Because what happens is, you get blacklisted, your career is in danger—after that, no one wants to work with you.”
Crews said after he came forward, he was also told that what happened to him was “not abuse” but, rather, “a joke” and “horseplay.”
“But I can say that one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation,” he said. “I’m not a small, insecure man, but in that moment, and in the time following, I never felt more emasculated.”
Crews stressed that the “Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights” is a “critical bill which must be enacted in all 50 states,” not only giving survivors access to a fully government-subsidized rape kit to alleviate the financial burden of seeking justice, but also giving them the right access to police files as well as sexual assault counselors. Also, the bill states that critical DNA evidence be retained until the statute of limitations is over.
“This bill gives survivors the right to have time to distance themselves from the immediate trauma before making the difficult decision to report the assault to law enforcement,” said Crews.
“Every man woman and child deserves to be seen as equal,” he concluded.