American actor and former NFL player Terry Crews spoke about the importance of protecting survivors of sexual assault in a moving and powerful testimony before the US Senate Judicial Committee in Washington on Tuesday.
Crews’ testimony, in which he spoke about witnessing his father abuse his mother as a child as well as his own sexual assault in 2016, was aimed at encouraging nationwide implementation of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which creates additional rights and protections for sexual assault complainants.
The bill, which was signed by President Barack Obama in 2016, gives complainants of sexual assault access to subsidised rape kit, police results, rape kit results and counselling services. Crews and others are advocating for the provisions of the bill to be made available in all 50 states of the United States.
“This past year we have seen powerful men in Hollywood and elsewhere finally held accountable for sexual assault,” the Brooklyn Nine-Nine star said before recounting his own experience of sexual assault, which he first shared in October 2017 during the outpour of #MeToo stories that followed the multiple sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Crews alleged that in 2016, a Hollywood agent grabbed his genitals at a party. “The assault lasted only minutes,” Crews said, “but what he was effectively telling me while he held my genitals in his hand was that he held the power.”
“I was told over and over that this was not abuse,” Crews told the Senate in his testimony. “This was just a joke. This was just horseplay. But I can say one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation.”
When Diane Feinstein, United States Senator from California asked Crews why he didn’t fight off the assaulter, considering his strength and size, Crews spoke about how survivors of assault often have to worry about their careers and reputations, in addition to the fear of incarceration that many African Americans face in the United States. “As a black man in America, you only have a few shots at success,” he explained. “I have seen many young black men who have been provoked into violence and then imprisoned.” You can watch his complete response to Senator Feinstein in the video below: