“When I was raped, I felt powerless.”
That’s what Lena Dunham had to say when she opened up about her alleged sexual assault, speaking at Variety’s Power of Women 2015 lunch.
Dunham, who wrote in her memoir that she was raped by a fellow undergraduate at Oberlin College, described how she felt in the aftermath of being assaulted, and how that experience has shaped her:
I felt my value had been determined by someone else, someone who sent me the message that my body was not my own, and my choices were meaningless. It took years to recognize my personal worth was not tied to my assault; the voices telling me I deserved this were phantoms; they were liars. So as a feminist, and a sexual assault survivor, my ultimate goal is to use my experience, my platform, and yes, my privilege, to reverse stigma and give voice to other survivors.
Dunham was at the luncheon to accept an award for her work with Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), which helps victims of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
“Trauma can make us narcissistic and myopic, turning us inward as we struggle with what we have seen, felt, and repressed,” Dunham said. “But connecting with other survivors reopens our world. Instead of scrambling for power by silencing other women, we’re able to mutually strengthen each other through collaboration and support.”
Dunham’s words are a powerful reminder of how sexual assault victims are silenced and doubted — something that needs to change.
Watch the full speech below.