Meaghan Kirby
June 26, 2018 1:47 pm

On Tuesday, June 26th, Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, advocating on behalf of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights. In his opening remarks, the actor, who first opened up about his experience being sexually assaulted on Twitter last fall, spoke out about toxic masculinity and its devastating effects on society.

Crews began his statement by reflecting on his decision to come forward as a survivor of sexual assault in the wake of allegations against a number of high power Hollywood men, including Harvey Weinstein, James Tobak, and Brett Ratner. Crews told the committee, “This past year, we have seen powerful men in Hollywood and elsewhere finally held accountable for sexual harassment and assault. We also saw the backlash survivors faced after coming forward. I wanted these survivors to know that I believed them, I supported them, and that this happened to me too.”

The actor recounted his own assault in 2016, in which he was groped by Adam Venit, the then-head of William Morris Endeavor’s motion picture department. After Crews came forward publicly, Venit was suspended and later demoted from his position, but remains at WME.

"This is how toxic masculinity permeates culture. As I shared my story, I was told over and over that this was not abuse. This was just a joke. This was just horseplay," Crews told the committee. "But I can say one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation. And I chose to tell my story and share my experience to stand in solidarity with millions of other survivors around the world. That I know how hard it is to come forward, I know the shame associated with the assault. It happened to me."

Reiterating his experience as a survivor of sexual assault and how watching countless women come forward with their own stories prompted him to do the same, Crews added, “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.”

Advocating for the legislation alongside Amanda Nguyen, founder and CEO of Rise, Crews called for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights to be enacted in all 50 states. The legislation, which was codified at the federal level in 2016, provides a number of legal protections to sexual assault survivors, including providing a government subsidized rape kit to all survivors looking to report their sexual assault and requiring all performed rape kits be held on to for the duration of the statute of limitations.

Watch Crews’s full opening remarks here:

When later questioned by senators about his experience, Crews revealed that Expendables producer Avi Lerner threatened him with “trouble” if he didn’t drop his lawsuit against Venit. The actor, who starred in the first three installments of the Expendables franchise, revealed that he wouldn’t appear in the upcoming fourth film.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault or violence, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).

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