LIFESTYLE

Lena Dunham Reveals She Was Date Raped In College: 'I Spent So Much Time Ashamed'

01/10/2014 14:41 BST | Updated 01/10/2014 15:59 BST

In her new book 'Not That Kind of Girl', Lena Dunham reveals that she was date raped in college.

Ahead of the book's release, the 'Girls' actress told NPR, National Public Radio in the US, about the aggressive sexual attack, admitting that at first, she blamed herself for being drunk.

"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 said.

lena dunham

Lena said she struggled to come to terms with the attack. Even though her vagina was so badly damaged that she needed medical attention, she didn't acknowledge the incident as rape for a long time.

It wasn't until Lena told her best friend about what had happened to her - and her friend she "you were raped" - that Lena was fully able to understand her experience.

"When my best friend used the term ‘you were raped,’ I laughed at her and thought, ‘what an ambulance chasing drama queen.' But later I felt this enormous gratitude to her for giving me that gift of that certainty," she said.

"When I felt at my lowest about it, those words lifted me up."

Lena went on to tell NPR about an email she has since sent to a friend of her alleged attacker.

"I said to this old friend in an email, I said 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 still feel like myself and I feel less alone," Lena said.

Making the brave decision to include the chapter on date rape in her book was not easy for Lena, but she hopes it will raise awareness about the crime and encourage other victims to report abuse.

According to Rape Crisis, around 85% of women who are raped or sexually assaulted know their attacker prior to the incident.

"Rape is a terrifying, violent crime that can have devastating short and long-term impacts on a survivor's life, regardless of the circumstances in which it takes place," their website states.

Lena initially blamed herself for being raped as she was drunk when it happened, but it's important for victims to remember that what they were wearing or how much they had to drink is irrelevant - the blame is always the perpetrators.

As Rape Crisis says: "If you have not given your consent to have sexual relations or were unable to give your consent (asleep, passed out, drunk) then this is also rape. Even though rape involves forced sex, rape is not about sex or passion. Rape has nothing to do with love. Rape is an act of aggression and violence."

For advice on reporting sexual violence, visit rapecrisis.org.uk.

SEE ALSO:

Rape Is Not as Simple as X Versus Y

Why Sexual Violence And Rape Culture Will Only End If We Get Boys On Board With Feminism

Lena Dunham