'I felt ill': Brendan Fraser describes sexual assault that nearly made him quit acting

Remember Brendan Fraser? 10 years ago, he was one of Hollywood's biggest stars. Then, he suddenly disappeared.

If you were a kid in the late '90s and early '00s, chances are you saw a Brendan Fraser movie. The comedy and action star catapulted to fame behind blockbusters like "The Mummy" franchise, "George of the Jungle," "Looney Tunes: Back in Action," and the Oscar-winning film "Crash."

But after 2008, he largely disappeared from major starring roles. His absence wasn't due to drugs, a sex-scandal, or illness — despite memes and even reported articles speculating about his career arc, with many blaming it on poor career choices.


Fraser revealed in a recent interview that an incident of sexual harassment led him to withdraw from his high-profile lifestyle.

Lately, the actor has gradually returned to more high-profile roles, and in an interview with GQ, he explained that the real reason he stepped back from the spotlight was because of being physically groped by Philip Berk, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

In his own book, Berk admitted to "pinching" Fraser in the buttocks after an event, but Fraser says the incident was much worse. "His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around."

"I felt ill. I felt like a little kid," he told GQ. "I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry."

He said it's time to speak out, and other male victims of harassment are supporting him.

Berk has called the allegation a "total fabrication" but acknowledges he sent Fraser an apology letter after the incident when the actor complained to the HFPA. Fraser said he tried to bury his feelings about the incident, but he was moved into action after seeing actresses and actors speaking up at this year's Golden Globes.

“Am I still frightened? Absolutely. Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely."

Despite his reservations, people seem to believe, and be genuinely moved by, Fraser's claim. Once the target of jokes, Fraser has become a catalyst for moving praise across social media.

He's also earned some public support from actor Terry Crews, who has publicly discussed experiencing a similar incident years ago.

"Brendan is amazingly courageous in telling this," Crews wrote on Twitter. "His assault experience is extremely similar to mine — ending with the assailant explaining away his actions. One man's 'horseplay' is another man's humiliation."

Victims of sexual harassment and assault often face deep shame and fear in speaking out. Speaking out takes courage.

Speaking out after experiencing harassment or assault can be an incredible challenge, often full of personal and professional risk. Though the majority of assaults are against women, men face their own similar challenges in overcoming shame, doubt, and repercussions for coming forward and speaking out. When men like Fraser and Crews speak out, they help clear the path for other men to come forward with their own stories.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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via Cathy Pedrayes / Instagram

Sometimes the most innocuous question can give a predator all the information they need to stalk, harass, or assault a woman. That's why Instagram's "safety queen" Cathy Pedrayes has made a series of videos showing women the best times to lie to a stranger.

We've all been raised to tell the truth, but when it comes to being safe there's no reason we should feel compelled to give out personal information to a random stranger. Pedrayes' videos do a great job at not only showing women when to lie and but how to feel comfortable doing so.

Pedrayes originally started making videos about philosophy and being a "mom friend," but soon fell into making clips centered around safety because of her unique background.

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