It’s “the summer of freedom,” if you ask Terry Crews.
Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor opened up about his experience coming forward as a victim of sexual assault.
“I like to call it, for me and for a lot of other people out there, I like to call it the summer of freedom,” he said. “We can tell our truth.”
Crews, 50, has been outspoken about his own #MeToo experience, alleging that Adam Venit, former head of the motion picture department at William Morris Endeavor (WME) and top Hollywood agent, groped him at a party in 2016. Crews filed a lawsuit against WME and Venit, which was later dismissed by the Los Angeles District Attorney, citing the statute of limitations. Venit, who denied the allegations, was suspended and later demoted.
“These are lessons that I learned while doing the show,” Crews said on Wednesday. “We had an episode called ‘Moo Moo’ that really confronted a lot of incidents regarding race and the police and we started to tackle those subjects. … It’s about being able to tell your story.”
“One thing that influenced me was being here and feeling safe and having friends and family on the show that I felt secure enough with that I could actually tell my truth and still go to work,” he continued. “It made a difference. I thank each and every person that is standing up here right now because it gave me the strength, along with all of the woman who came forward in the #MeToo movement, where I got all my strength from.”
Crews revealed that he discussed the alleged assault with his cast members the day before he went public with the news and said he was “supported and always have been supported.”
“I’m going to tell you, that I think this is just the beginning,” he said. “I feel like this is going to be a new day and now the town will be safe for my wife, for my son and for my daughter.”
In June, Crews gave a powerful testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee about proposed legislation known as the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights.
“Abusers protect abusers — and this is one thing I had to decide, whether I was going to draw the line on,” he said. “Am I going to be a part of this or am I going to take a stand?”
Crews said that he has faced blowback for speaking out as a male sexual assault survivor and blamed toxic masculinity for not believing victims.
“This is how toxic masculinity permeates culture,” he said. “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. 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.”