In her new memoir Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham reveals that she was sexually assaulted while she was an undergrad at Oberlin College. "I was at a party, drunk, waiting for attention. And somehow that felt like such a shameful starting off point that I didn't know how to reconcile what had come after," she recalled to Terry Gross in a recent episode of NPR's Fresh Air.
"It was a painful experience physically and emotionally and one I spent a long time trying to reconcile. ... I actually [have] been thinking about it a lot this week because I sent an email to somebody who I had known at that time who knew the guy who had perpetrated the act. ... I wanted to make it clear to this old friend what I felt had happened before he potentially bought the book at Hudson News and read about it," she told Gross.
I hated the idea of somebody finding out that information [independently of me telling them] because at the time that it happened, it wasn't something I was able to be honest about. I was able to share pieces, but I used the lens of humor, which has always been my default-mode to try to talk around it.
I said to this old friend in an email, "I spent so much time scared; I spent so much time ashamed. I don't feel that way anymore and it's not because of my job, it's not because of my boyfriend, it's not because of feminism, though all those things helped. It's because I told the story. And I'm still here, and my identity hasn't shifted in some way that I can't repair. And I still feel like myself and I feel less alone."
Dunham's willingness to share her story will undoubtedly be a great comfort to many young women who have been victimized under similar circumstances. According to RAINN, 1 in every 6 American women has been a victim of sexual assault.
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