Mr. Terry Crews went to Washington on Tuesday to advocate for the nationwide implementation of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights. The bill, which was signed by President Barack Obama in 2016, allows anyone reporting sexual assault to have their rape kits preserved and their forensic testing subsidized. Now advocates like Crews and Evan Rachel Wood, who also spoke in front of the senate earlier this year, are looking to make this bill available in all 50 states.
While speaking in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Crews also spoke about the importance of the #MeToo movement and how it has given power to sexual assault survivors like himself. “This past year we have seen powerful men in Hollywood and elsewhere finally held accountable for sexual assault,” Crews said in his opening statement, according to Vulture. “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 tweeted his own story of being groped by Hollywood agent Adam Venit at a party in 2016 in front of his wife, adding a new voice to the movement, which had mostly been focused on women. By speaking up, though, he realized that he wasn’t completely aware of his rights when it came to reporting his assault and he assumed he wasn’t alone.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Since sharing his #MeToo story, Crews has never stopped doing something. He filed a lawsuit against Venit and his employer William Morris Endeavor over the alleged assault.
(Venit was demoted at WME, but wasn’t fired for his alleged behavior, according to Vulture.) When he was named one of TIME’s “Silence Breakers” last year, Crews used his interview to focus on the importance of men holding other men accountable. The actor and advocate used his time in front of the senate to also talk about the need for more outspoken men. Crews said that the #MeToo movement “encouraged me to come forward with my own experience and reflect on the cult of toxic masculinity,” but more men need to support those coming forward.
“I have to say 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.”
As hard as it was to originally speak out about his own experience, Crews said it’s led other men to reach out to him and tell their stories. “I sit here before you just as an example because a lot of people don’t believe that a person like me could actually be victimized,” he said. “And what happened to me has happened to many, many other men in Hollywood, and since I came forward with my story I’ve had thousands and thousands of men come to me and say, ‘Me too — this is my story.’”
Now, Crews is hoping saying those two words will lead to real change for anyone who has experienced what he has.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).