*Warning: Some descriptions may be triggering*
‘Girls’ creator and actress, Lena Dunham has bravely opened up about her date rape ordeal in college and her struggle with being a rape survivor.
In her new memoir, “Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned,” Lena bravely speaks about her experiences of sexual assault and how she struggled to come to terms with defining her encounter as rape and her original (and completely false) belief that she was to blame.
“All I knew when I stumbled home from a party behind him was that he was sullen, thuggish, and a poor loser at poker. How that led to intercourse was a study in the way revulsion can quickly become desire when mixed with the right muscle relaxants.”
Unfortunately, like a lot of rape victims she was frightened and unsure if what happened classified as rape and immediately assumed it was her fault, a never-ending consequence of the pervasive victim-blaming culture within society.
“I feel like there are fifty ways it’s my fault. I fantasized. I took the big pill and the small pill, stuffed myself with substances to make being out in the world with people my own age a little bit easier. I was hungry to be seen. But I also know that at no moment did I consent to being handled that way. I never gave him permission to be rough, to stick himself inside me without a barrier between us. I never gave him permission. In my deepest self I know this, and the knowledge of it has kept me from sinking.”
Dunham admits it had taken some time for her to come to terms with the fact that she’d been raped in the first place, admitting that for a long time after she was physically and emotionally affected
” I spent so much time scared,” Dunham said. “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.”
She goes on to thank her best friend for identifying her experience as rape and legitimising her pain for her, which goes to show the importance of supporting someone who has gone through such a trauma.
“When I shared it with my best friend and she used the term ‘you were raped’ at the time, I sort of laughed at her and thought like, you know, what an ambulance-chasing drama queen,” Dunham continued. “[I] later felt this incredible gratitude for her for giving me that, giving me that gift of that kind of certainty that she had. I think that a lot of times when I felt at my lowest about it, those words in some way actually lifted me up because I felt that somebody was justifying the pain of my experience.”
So much importance should be placed on supporting victims of rape and avoiding the shame or excuse game when survivors open up about their traumas.
Dunham’s story really encapsulates the messiness and confusion inherent in some instances of sex, coupled with a misogynist and prevalent rape culture that surrounds current rape discourse to the point where victims blame themselves or are unwilling to speak out and report their assault. This calls for continuing cultural discourse on the confusing definition of rape and the prevalent misconceptions that surround the experiences of rape culture.
At the end of the day, women like Lena Dunham… who are brave enough to speak out and share their stories are vital for perpetuating a society that refuses to ignore rape survivors and their experiences.
Four for you Lena Dunham.. for being a truly awesome role model for those who have suffered sexual assault!
“Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” is in stores now.