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Silence Breaker Terry Crews Strives to Fix Our Victim-Blaming Culture

Back in October of this year, in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Hollywood actor and former NFL player Terry Crews stepped forward to address his own experiences of sexual assault in Hollywood. In a sixteen-tweet Twitter thread, Crews details his personal experience of being sexually assaulted during a Hollywood function by a “high-level Hollywood executive” who Crews has recently identified as WME Entertainment talent agent, Adam Venit.

Crews only recently made the decision to identify his attacker and makes note of his good reasons for doing so following news of the lawsuit he filed against Venit on December 4th.

On December 6th, shortly after the lawsuit against Venit was filed, Crews was recognized as a part of “The Silence Breakers,” a group of men and women recognized as TIME Magazine’s Person of The Year for their courage to speak out about their experiences with sexual assault.

Much like his reasons for his decision to come forward with his story back in October, Crews makes it very clear that his decision to identify his attacker was done in support of the countless other “silence breakers,” those who have either been dissuaded from outing their attackers for fear of being ostracized by the public, or those who have had their accusations silenced to protect their attackers from being held accountable for their crimes.

In an NPR interview with Crews regarding his accusations and lawsuit against Venit, he states, “This is about accountability. This is about discipline. I don’t want revenge, that’s not what I’m looking for… Because somehow our society is wired for the victim to take the whole brunt of shame. Because if no one gets a pass, if everyone holds everyone accountable every time, the whole system will be disciplined into knowing how to behave because this is all about not accepting this foul behavior.”

Crews has been vocal about his desire to use this experience, as well as his male privilege, to change the culture around sexual assault for all victims. He has made it clear, however, that his initial intent was in support of the victims who happened to be women, as he recognizes the difficulties they face in receiving support from a society that is particularly disinclined to believe female victims of sexual assault.

During his NPR interview, Crews also stated, “I remember just feeling like ‘No, somebody’s got to support them. Somebody’s got to back these people up, because they’re about to get shamed… I’ve got to back these women up because they are going through the toughest time in their life, and it happened to me.’”

Crews has been a necessary voice in the #MeToo campaign. His narrative not only sheds light on the many male victims of sexual assault, as well as the complicated racialized experiences of assault victims of color that are often erased from the conversation. It also acts as an example of how male survivors of sexual assault can use their voices and privilege to support other victims, whether they identify as men, women, or nonbinary. His voice is working alongside those of many other advocates devoted to changing the culture around handling issues of sexual assault. We applaud Crews and the other “silence breakers” for their strength to speak up against injustices happening every day.

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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