In a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, actor and former professional football player Terry Crews talked about how toxic masculinity, shame and a culture that protects abusers all contributed to his being sexually assaulted by a Hollywood agent in 2016. He also mentioned how he has been mocked for sharing his story — in fact, rapper 50 Cent recently mocked him too in a now-deleted Instagram post. Terry Crews’ testimony is one of the few stories from men that have come out in the #MeToo era, a time when many women have increasingly spoken out against their sexual abusers.
In Terry Crews’ testimony, he said that he spent his childhood watching his father violently abuse his mother. He promised himself that he’d never be like his dad, and yet he still internalized the idea that as a man, he was more valuable than women. So he says he used power, influence and control on the football field and Hollywood to get what he wanted, often treating women as disposable and less than human.
In 2016, Crews was sexually assaulted by a Hollywood agent, WME agent Adam Venit, who groped his genitals while Crews was at a party with his wife. When he shared his story over and over, he was told that it was not abuse, it was just horseplay or a joke.
Crews said, “But I can tell you that one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation.”
During the questioning that followed Terry Crews’ testimony, California Senator Dianne Feinstein asked why Crews didn’t respond to Venit’s molestation with physical violence, as was his first impulse. Crews said that after a lifetime seeing black men arrested, imprisoned and killed after being provoked into violence, he knew that assaulting the agent would basically ruin one of the few chances for success that he as a black man had in America.
Crews added, “The next day, I went right to the agency. I have texts, I have phone conversations, and I said, ‘This is unacceptable.’ And I told them how I almost got violent, but I didn’t. I said, ‘What are you going to do about this predator that you have roaming your hallways?’ And I was told, ‘We’re going to do everything in our power. We’re going to handle this, Terry. You’re right, it’s unacceptable.’ And then they disappeared. Nothing happened.”
He felt waves of shame washing over him as he heard stories from women around the world, speaking about their sexual harassment and assault as part of the the #MeToo movement, so he felt compelled to speak out. “I know how hard it is to come forward. I know the shame associated with assault…. I’m not a small or insecure man but in that moment and in the time following, I’ve never felt more emasculated.”
Later in Terry Crews’ testimony, he revealed that his decision to file a lawsuit against Venit caused him to be dropped from the fourth installment of The Expendables, even though he has appeared in the first three films. He said the producer of the fourth film is under his own sexual assault investigation, and “abusers protect abusers,” implying that the producer is the one who dropped Crews from the film because of the lawsuit.
Crews also said that he has received online mockery from people who say he’s not a real man because he “allowed himself” to be molested by another man.
In fact, rapper 50 Cent mocked Crews yesterday in a now-deleted Instagram post (below) in which he implies that Crews should’ve been violent and fought back when molested. This same reasoning is used to imply that other survivors of sexual assault “wanted it.” This is stupid coming from a rapper who once complained that a TV show showed his penis without his permission.
But, he said being a real man involves being vulnerable and authentic so that other men who have experienced the same thing can share their truth, grieve, connect, grow stronger and become even more of a man in the process.
Regarding the the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, Crews explained its importance to helping provide justice to survivors of sexual assault.
“The bill gives survivors the right to a fully, government-subsidized rape kit to alleviate the financial burden of seeking justice,” he said. “It gives survivors the right to receive information including access to police reports, rape kit reports and access to sexual assault counselors.”
“And by requiring that rape kits and forensic DNA evidence be retained for the duration of the statute of limitations,” he continued, “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.”