Terry Crews Reveals What It Was Like to Speak Up About Sexual Assault

Terry Crews - Teen Vogue 2018
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Teen Vogue

The 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' star reflected on how he joined the #MeToo movement and shared his thoughts on the perils of social media.

While being honored as a "phenom" for his role as an activist at the 11th annual Shorty Awards on Sunday night, Terry Crews opened up about what led him to disclose his story of sexual assault in 2017.

"Sixteen tweets basically started my activism," Crews told The Hollywood Reporter. 

On stage at the Playstation Theater in New York City, Crews expanded upon this, stating that social media has changed his life twice — the first being in 2014, when he was an "early recipient" of Facebook Live, and he revealed in a video that he was addicted to pornography, and the latter just after Ronan Farrow's expose of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

"Then I went on social media and I could not believe the men that were dogging these women, that were calling them opportunists, that were calling them gold diggers, that were saying that this is the price you have to pay to be in the business," Crews said alongside his wife, Rebecca King-Crews. "And I knew it had happened to me, and I knew I didn’t say anything either. And I had a choice. I remember just thinking. I actually turned off my phone, and I said, you know what, I’m not going to write anything. I’m just going to keep on going. I’m going to get paid, keep going, move on, because you know what, hey man, this stuff happens and we just have to move on."

Crews choked up, but continued, "And then something hit me. It said if you don’t, if you don’t do this, there’s so many people that are not gonna get the help they need. And I realized I had to."

He then took to Twitter to speak out about being allegedly sexually assaulted by WME's Adam Venit.

"You have to understand, when I went home that first day, I told my wife my career was over. We knew it was over. We said, ‘It’s done,'" Crews explained. "And you know what my wife told me? She said, ‘You know what, we were done after football. We were done after everything else you were gonna do. We’ll find something else to do.’ And that’s the reality of what this thing is. I’m an accidental activist. Because the point is, these things happen, and you look around and you wait for somebody else to do something and you realize it’s you."

Crews then thanked "all the women who have suffered in silence for years and years," and who gave him the strength to be where he is today, including his wife.

"And I tell you, this will not change — this culture cannot change — until more men become involved in women’s issues," Crews said. "We have to do this together."

But Crews told THR he does believe "the world has changed for the better," in the past two years as the #MeToo and Time's Up movements have evolved.

"I told people a long time ago, this was going to be very messy, because there were a lot of people who got away with some things for a long, long time," he said. "But now, I think that the fear — I mean, if you’ve been doing wrong, you should be fearful. I think it’s kind of correct that people are now watching what they’re saying, and keeping their boundaries correct in the workplace; in wherever they play. Boundaries are being respected a lot more."

But even though Crews used Twitter to share his story of sexual assault, he admitted that the platform, along with other social media websites, can be "way too toxic."

"Social media is a tool just like a knife is a tool," he told THR. "It can cut your steak, it can do a lot of great things, and it can kill you. I look at social media and I read the comments, and it’s really, really crazy."

Ultimately, he handles the negative commenters by not blocking them, but muting them.

"This is the thing everybody has to remember: you were never meant to know what everyone is thinking," Crews said. "And that’s what social media is. You’re literally reading minds. And a lot of it is very dangerous. Every thought that comes into your head doesn’t need to be said."