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

“It's embarrassing misogyny”: Labour's poor record on female leaders

Harriet Harman says the party must elect a woman at the top

29 May 2017

Prince William shares “raw” grief over mother Diana's death

The royal heir opens up about "raw" grief in candid new interview

by Anna Brech
29 May 2017

“I've needed her”: Angelina Jolie opens up about her late mother

The actor was very close to her single mum, who died of cancer in 2007

by Anna Brech
29 May 2017

Ellen DeGeneres returning to stand-up comedy with Netflix special

The 'funniest person in America' returns

by Nicola Colyer
26 May 2017

Homeless man who helped injured in Manchester attack offered rent

“He’s helped a lot of people, if I can help him, that’s really it.”

by Amy Swales
25 May 2017

Bataclan survivor offers words of hope to Manchester attack witnesses

“I want to tell you something that may seem hard to believe right now: it gets better.”

by Amy Swales
25 May 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From antics in Cannes to Reese Witherspoon's mother-son selfie

by Nicola Colyer
25 May 2017

Diane Kruger says she’s “never been paid as much as a male co-star”

She's been working in Hollywood for 16 years. Just let that sink in.

by Moya Crockett
25 May 2017

Elizabeth Banks is directing a Charlie’s Angels reboot

And it’s finally got an official release date

by Moya Crockett
25 May 2017

Millennials, Helen Mirren has shared her top 5 rules for a happy life

And they're seriously badass

by Kayleigh Dray
24 May 2017