The Important Reason Terry Crews Brought His #MeToo Story To The Senate

"All survivors must be protected."

On Tuesday, Terry Crews gave a powerful testimony during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights. According to Refinery29, the bill was signed by President Obama in 2016, and advocates such as Crews are now pushing for it to be adopted in all 50 states.

The former NFL player and current Brooklyn Nine-Nine star used his speech to examine the "cult of toxic masculinity that exists in our society," emphasize the importance of believing survivors, and set an example for other men to come forward and speak out against sexual abuse.

"This past year we have seen powerful men in Hollywood and elsewhere finally held accountable for sexual assault," he 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."

Last year, Crews responded to accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein by tweeting that he himself had been groped by another Hollywood executive in 2016. In December, he filed a lawsuit against WME agent Adam Venit for the alleged assault. 

His decision to speak out has apparently already impacted his career, as he said during Tuesday's testimony that he will not be appearing in The Expendables 4 due to a threat of "troubles" from a producer over his lawsuit.

"The assault lasted only minutes," he said during his testimony, "but what he was effectively telling me while 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," Crews continued. "As I shared my story, I was told over and over that this was not abuse. That this was just a joke. That this was just horseplay. But I can say that one man's horseplay is another man's humiliation."

Crews also shared how toxic masculinity previously affected his own thoughts, as he revealed that he grew up witnessing his father abuse his mother. "I swore I would never be like my father. And yet I believed, to my core, that as a man, I was more valuable in this world than women," he said. "I was taught my entire life that I must control the world."

Crews also made it clear that he's not the only man who has experienced sexual assault. According to Deadline, he shared, "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.' "

In recent months, actor Brendan Fraser has shared his own similar experience, saying he was also inspired by the #MeToo movement to speak out. He, too, was told that his own assault was "a joke." 

As Crews outlined in his opening statement, the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights gives survivors the right to a government-subsidized rape kit, as well the right to receive information such as police reports, and requires that rape kits and DNA evidence be kept "for the duration of the statute of limitations."

"I am honored to use my platform and story to help create additional civil rights protections for survivors across the nation under the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights," Crews said, adding, "All survivors must be protected, and this bill must be enacted in all 50 states."

Hear Crews' opening statement in the video below:

Cover image: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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