Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

‘When I was raped I felt powerless’; Lena Dunham opens up about sexual assault

Lena Dunham.jpg

Lena Dunham has given an impassioned speech about sexual assault at Variety's Power of Women event in New York. 

Speaking about activist Rachel Lloyd, who set up Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), in a bid to aid young girls who have been victims of the commercial sexual traffic trade, the actress also opened up about the time she was raped. 

 “When I was raped I felt powerless. I felt my worth had been determined by someone else,” she told the audience. 

The Girls creator first revealed she had been raped in her memoir Not That Kind of Girl. The incident occurred while the 28-year-old was a student at Oberlin college in Ohio, however it took nearly a decade before the star felt she could tell her story.

 “I felt my value had been determined by someone else. It took years to recognize my personal worth was not tied to my assault. The voices telling me I deserved this were phantoms, liars.”

There was controversy when the sexual assault came to light as the name Lena gives her assailant in her book, Barry, wasn't clearly marked as a pseudonym. This led to a a man named Barry who attended Oberlin said he was misidentified as the "Barry" in Dunham's memoir even though he had never met her.

Publishers Random House have since said they would ensure that future editions of the tome would be clearly marked. 

In response to the controversy, Lena stated that her intention was never to reveal her attacker. 

“Speaking out was never about exposing the man who assaulted me,” she wrote for Buzzfeed. "Rather, it was about exposing my shame, letting it dry out in the sun. I did not wish to be contacted by him or to open a criminal investigation.”

“When I finally chose to share my story, I did not do so in a vacuum. I was inspired by all the brave women who are now coming forward with their own experiences, despite the many risks associated with speaking out.”

“I have been made to feel, on multiple occasions, as though I am to blame for what happened. But I don't believe I am to blame. I don't believe any of us who have been raped and/or assaulted are to blame.”

“I simply cannot allow my story to be used to cast doubt on other women who have been sexually assaulted.”

Related

bikini body.jpg

The best and funniest take-downs of the Beach Body Ready campaign

Amy Schumer video.jpg

Hollywood's funniest women highlight sad truth about ageism

12.jpg

The best A-list Instagram pics from the weekend

Untitled-wine2.jpg

A guide to every food and wine pairing you’ll ever need to know

rexfeatures_4735074s (1).jpg

Fashion highlights from the week

dl-portrait-npg-charlotte-bronte.jpg

Charlotte Brontë’s beautiful letters on unrequited love

Comments

More

The best A-list Instagrams from the weekend

From the Women's March frontline to Victoria Beckham's sweet tribute

by Nicola Colyer
23 Jan 2017

Kylie Minogue explains why she's decided to change her name

“Minogue has never tripped off the tongue”

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Jan 2017

Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson’s new film is inspired by Donald Trump

Its title? Nasty Women.

by Moya Crockett
20 Jan 2017

Obama pens moving farewell letter to the US people

“You made me a better President, and you made me a better man”

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jan 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Naomi Campbell's super throwback to Mindy Kaling's farewell

by Nicola Colyer
20 Jan 2017

Melania Trump refuses to let Donald direct her at inauguration event

He was seen barking instructions at her – but she ignored him and walked away

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jan 2017

David Beckham confirmed for special Desert Island Discs episode

Time to find out what it’s like to be stuck on a desert island with David Beckham

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jan 2017

Chrissy Teigen wants you to know that everyone gets stretch marks

In her words: “Whatevs.”

by Moya Crockett
20 Jan 2017

Lena Dunham talks about painful endometriosis battle in podcast

“I felt like I’d done something terribly wrong just by wanting to feel better”

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jan 2017

Kim Kardashian joins the cast of a movie about a jewel heist

And brings Kendall Jenner along for the ride.

by Moya Crockett
19 Jan 2017