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Girls TV show creator and star Lena Dunham has written an op-ed to explain why she chose to write about a sexual assault she encountered almost a decade ago, when Dunham and a man she called “Barry” were students at Oberlin College.
Dunham told her story in a BuzzFeed guest column titled “Lena Dunham: Why I Chose to Speak Out,” published on Tuesday.
In her book, Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham described Barry as a Republican who wore cowboy boots, sported a mustache, hosted a radio show, worked at one of the campus libraries and graduated in December 2005. A former Oberlin student who claims Dunham described him has stepped forward to deny he raped Dunham.
On Monday, the man’s attorney told The Hollywood Reporter that the book publisher plans to alter a passage in Not That Kind of Girl to specify “Barry” is a pseudonym.
“To be very clear, ‘Barry’ is a pseudonym, not the name of the man who assaulted me, and any resemblance to a person with this name is an unfortunate and surreal coincidence. I am sorry about all he has experienced,” Dunham wrote in the BuzzFeed column.
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Dunham then responded to criticism she has received for speaking out about the assault she wrote about in her memoir.
“Speaking out was never about exposing the man who assaulted me. 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,” Dunham wrote.
“I have had my character and credibility questioned at every turn. 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. My friends and family have been contacted. Articles have heralded ‘Lena Dunham’s shocking confession.’ I have been made to feel, on multiple occasions, as though I am to blame for what happened.”
She wrote that survivors of sexual assaults should be allowed to tell their stories freely and “take back control after the ultimate loss of control.”
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