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

Angelina Jolie slammed for “cruel” experiment on impoverished children

The children were selected from orphanages, circuses and slum schools

by Kayleigh Dray
28 Jul 2017

Kate Hudson has shaved her head (and now we want to, too)

The actor showed off her new buzzcut on Instagram

by Kayleigh Dray
28 Jul 2017

Women are to blame for BBC gender pay gap, apparently

“I suspect they let it happen”

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jul 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Rihanna's squad goals to Kate Beckinsale's birthday surprise

by Nicola Colyer
27 Jul 2017

You need to read Jennifer Aniston’s epic tribute to BFF Jason Bateman

Find someone who talks about you the way Aniston talks about Bateman

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jul 2017

Michelle Obama on pain she felt after enduring racism as first lady

Rather than pretending she wasn’t hurt, Obama wants to own her scars

by Moya Crockett
27 Jul 2017

Usher’s Carpool Karaoke with James Corden is most hilarious one yet

The pair’s chemistry is positively off the charts

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jul 2017

Angelina Jolie diagnosed with Bell’s palsy following Brad Pitt split

‘I cry in the shower, not in front of my children’

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jul 2017

That viral Tinder couple just met for the first time on live TV

Watch their sweet-yet-awkward rendezvous

by Anna Brech
26 Jul 2017

Men earn more so they can support their wife and kids, says BBC actor

Tom Chambers has apologised for his controversial comments

by Moya Crockett
26 Jul 2017