Terry Crews has a message for survivors of sexual assault: “I will not be shamed. I did nothing wrong.” It’s a mantra the actor says anyone who has experienced sexual violence should repeat “until you believe it.”
Crews narrates a video that was released over the weekend as part of a PSA series by #MeToo, a movement geared toward helping survivors of sexual violence. The former NFL player, who now stars on NBC’s cop comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” has become a key figure in the #MeToo era since he publicly alleged in 2017 that a prominent Hollywood agent had groped his genitals.
Crews came forward the week following the New York Times and the New Yorker’s explosive stories about the powerful film producer Harvey Weinstein — a moment he references in his video, titled “Terry.”
“I remember right after the [Weinstein] story broke, I was just going through my feed, and there were so many men, in particular, that were calling these women liars. They were calling them opportunists,” Crews says in the video, which uses a high-pitched tone to obscure Weinstein’s name. “For me to remain silent, I would have felt like a fraud. Because when this happens to you, you are trapped. And you are not a victim that needs help. You are a problem that needs to be eradicated.”
Crews’s video is one of four in the series. Each one begins with a warning: “This may be triggering for those of us who have experienced sexual violence. Please do not feel obligated to watch, or to watch it alone.”
In one video, an anonymous man recalls confronting his abuser in a phone call. In another, a woman speaks in Spanish about feeling as though she had to keep her abuse a secret. The other video features a black woman, who says she experienced sexual violence in a relationship and used to believe that she was to blame. The videos, which were produced in partnership with the marketing agency, Deutsch, first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend.
Tarana Burke, the activist who founded #MeToo in 2006 as a phrase she used in her work with black women and girls who had experienced sexual violence, shared each of the videos on Twitter with a message of her own: “These stories are real. These people are real. See them, Hear them, Believe them,” she wrote. “Let’s get to work.
Burke also praised Crews, calling him an “ally and friend.”
“I don’t think people realize that @terrycrews only came forward with his story to SUPPORT the women who came forward in 2017,” Burke wrote. “He would have suffered in silence and left his
#metoo to fester inside while watching women be excoriated outside.”
Crews has been lauded by many for speaking publicly about his experience. But he has also been ridiculed. On Sunday, he sparred on Twitter with comedian D.L. Hughley, who suggested in a 2018 interview that Crews could have done more to prevent his alleged assault.
“Abusers protect abusers but they mock survivors as well,” Crews wrote during the fiery exchange.