Lena Dunham: I Was Sexually Assaulted in College

The Girls creator opens up about date rape in her new book.

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Lena Dunham's new collection of essays, Not That Kind of Girl, features humorous stories from her life. But one dark section delves into a painful moment from her past.

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In an interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, the Girls creator and star discussed her chapter about being sexually assaulted when she was in college. "It was a painful experience both physically and emotionally," she said.

She said she took a long time trying to reconcile what happened. At first, she wrote, she wasn't sure if it was rape or not, and whether she was complicit in the situation because she was drunk at a party, "waiting for attention." But after speaking with a friend, she realized what happened was rape.

Writing about it was a difficult process, she said, and reached out to people who knew her assaulter at the time to let them know before the book came out. "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."

Now, Dunham says, she feels it's important to open up about her date rape – not only to further the conversation about campus assault, but also to lighten the weight of keeping the trauma secret.

She summed it up to a friend of her assaulter: "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 […] It's because I told the story. And I still feel like myself and I feel less alone.'"

Photo: Getty Images

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