Trigger warning: Descriptions of sexual assault
On Friday, September 14, actor and former-NFL player Terry Crews tweeted out an apology letter written by the executive who sexually assaulted him. Along with the letter, the tweet read:
@WME ‘s ADAM VENIT FULL APOLOGY LETTER:
Received: March 22nd, 2018
Accepted WITH HIS RESIGNATION: September 10th, 2018
Last year, as the #MeToo movement grew, Crews was one of the few male voices that also named his attacker.
While at a Hollywood party with his wife, William Morris Endeavor (WME) executive Adam Venit approached him and groped him in front of Crews’ wife. When the actor demanded an explanation, horrified, Venit’s only response was to just grin. The next day, he did call Crews to apologize but offered no explanation.
At the time, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor didn’t take any action because he was afraid of the consequences it could mean for him as a black man in the media. But in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein accusations, Crews took to Twitter to tell fans that it was giving him PTSD because he too had suffered from a similar situation. He shared his story, filed a police report and sued Venit.
His lawsuit stipulated that he would only accept an apology if Venit resigned. Though WME first demoted the executive and then suspended him without pay, just this month he finally agreed to resign. As per the lawsuit agreement, WME will not be able to hire him again and Crews’ legal fees were covered.
Terry Crews’ win is a win for all #MeToo victims, but especially men. For many, he represents the epitome of masculinity, whether he’s playing a tough agent in The 6th Day, T-Money on Battle Dome (think American Ninja Warrior meets professional wrestling), appearing shirtless in Old Spice ads where he bounces his pecs or the tough yet lovable cop in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Since this experience and the emergence of the #MeToo movement last year, Crews has been outspoken on the issue of sexual assault, as well as toxic masculinity, calling the latter a cult. He has recently admitted he now understands why so many women who have faced this before just let it go.
By naming the perpetrator, Crews has shown men (and especially men of color) that they are not alone – women are not the only victims of sexual assault. Furthermore, by refusing to accept Venit’s apology until he resigned, Terry was able to reclaim his power.
By taking back power from the perpetrator, Crews shows victims that it’s possible to have some type of closure and justice. It’s a positive story in the darkness. The fact that he also refused to simply accept an apology (and may I say, a poorly written one at that) shows an understanding that for him an apology wasn’t enough. Just like Terry Crews had his dignity, pride, and safety stripped away, so too should the executive have his privilege stripped away.
I have no doubt that Venit will work again and many of his colleagues will overlook his crime, but for once, one victim was victorious over their assaulter. I’m hopeful that this provides a space for more people to be vocal about their experiences and seek justice. I hope it prompts more men to stand up for victims and be better allies. But most of all, I hope that it makes sexual assaulters and rapists afraid.
I hope it puts so much fear in their hearts that they never feel that they can ever be powerful again.