Lena Dunham Reveals Why She Spoke Out About Sexual Assault

Lena Dunham: Why I Spoke Out About My Rape

“The ways I’ve been attacked for sharing my story show how far we have to go when discussing sexual assault.”

In an essay published on BuzzFeed yesterday, Lena Dunham defends her choice to speak out about being sexually assaulted by a Republican Oberlin student nearly a decade ago and why she did.

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She recounted the traumatizing incident in her memoir Not That Kind of Girl. “I hoped I might inspire others to share, and that forming these connections would assist us all in healing,” she wrote. However, instead of open arms of support, she was met with skepticism.

Since its publication, one blog has investigated her claims, others have questioned her honesty and an Oberlin alum with the same name as the pseudonym she used was mistaken as her attacker.

In the online essay she reiterates how she did use a fictitious name and that she is sorry the Oberlin alum with the same name was falsely identified as her attacker. She also asked for people to be more empathetic.

“Speaking out was never about exposing the man who assaulted me,” the actress wrote. “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. I am in a loving and peaceful place in my life and I am not willing to sacrifice any more of it for this person I do not know, aside from one night I will never forget. That is my choice.”

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Dunham never reported the rape out of fear that no one would believe her and worried that future partners would think of her as “damaged goods.” It was time and understanding that lead her to open up about her pain:

“Eight years later, I know just how classic these fears are. They are the reason that the majority of college women who are assaulted will never report it.”

Exposing this sensitive story to others has lead to the public’s insensitivity. Dunham explained how her “character and creditability” have been questioned since sharing her story,

“I have been attacked online with violent and misogynistic language. Reporters have attempted to uncover the identity of my attacker despite my sincerest attempts to protect this information. My work has been torn apart in an attempt to prove I am a liar, or worse, a deviant myself.”

She however does not want sympathy with regards to the cruel reactions to her story. She doesn’t feel it’s just about her experiences and she accepts “the realities of being in the public eye.” What she does not want is for her story to be twisted and made to “cast doubt on other women who have been sexually assaulted.”

The Girls star has already received a lot of heat surrounding her memoir with callous accusations of molestation from retelling a childhood story about her sister. But she will not be silenced. “Speaking out about the realities and complexities of sexual assault is how we begin to protect each other.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dunham’s publisher Random House will change the pseudonym of  Dunham’s attacker used in future copies of the memoir. They will also compensate the real-life Barry for the legal fees he acquired in having his identify confused with the attacker written about in Not The Kind of Girl.

Dunham closed her essay with,

“Survivors have the right to tell their stories, to take back control after the ultimate loss of control. There is no right way to survive rape and there is no right way to be a victim. What survivors need more than anything is to be supported, whether they choose to pursue a criminal investigation or to rebuild their world on their own terms. You can help by never defining a survivor by what has been taken from her. You can help by saying I believe you.”

Read her entire essay on BuzzFeed here.