Lena Dunham: Why I Wrote About My Assault

It wasn't to expose attacker, it was to help other victims speak up
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2014 3:56 PM CST
Lena Dunham: Why I Wrote About My Assault
Lena Dunham at a book-signing for her memoir, 'Not That Kind Of Girl,' in London in October.   (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

In her memoir Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham writes about being sexually assaulted as a college student. Detractors have since questioned both her "character and credibility" in classic misogynistic fashion, she writes at BuzzFeed. The piece is headlined "Why I Chose to Speak Out," and Dunham explains that it "was never about exposing the man who assaulted me." (The "Barry" she names in the book is a pseudonym.) "Rather, it was about exposing my shame, letting it dry out in the sun." Dunham says it took years for her to acknowledge what happened even to herself, let alone talk about it with others. Because she was "drunk and high" when it occurred, she felt a mixture of shame, confusion, and fear afterward.

But it was sexual assault she knows now, and the self-doubt that fueled her decision not to report it is typical of many victims, she writes. In deciding to recount it in her book, "I hoped I might inspire others to share." The backlash, however, has been vicious, and while Dunham as a public figure can accept the attacks directed toward her personally, "I simply cannot allow my story to be used to cast doubt on other women who have been sexually assaulted." The attacks are a good example of why rape victims are reluctant to step forward, and Dunham hopes to use her "art and advocacy" to help change things, to make it easier for future victims. "I am deeply grateful that this dialogue is taking place," she writes. "I am angry but I am not alone." Click for her full column. (More Lena Dunham stories.)

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