The Girls star/creator spoke at the Rape Foundation Annual Brunch, which honored her fellow Girls producer, in Los Angeles on Sunday.
“It’s an honor to be here to present this honor to my work brother/dad/son/husband/dad again, Judd Apatow,” Dunham, 29, said during her speech. “My love and admiration for this man is boundless not just because he’s a creative dynamo or the funniest person I’ve ever met, but because he’s a tireless advocate for women.”
“That means never ever accepting misogyny, assault or abuse as the status quo in Hollywood or in the real world,” the actress continued. “We all know that Judd has advocated publicly for America to respect and believe survivors of rape. We know he refuses to follow the path to be silenced.”
Dunham went on to thank Apatow for not only his advocacy for women but also for his support when she shared her own story.
“When I decided to write about my experience with sexual assault, Judd was one of the first people that I shared the essay with. His notes were kind and considerate, and made the work infinitely stronger just as his support made me infinitely stronger when the story was met with backlash,” she said. “I can safely say I would not have emerged from the darkness of that period without the constant check-ins, sweet jokes and unwavering loving presence of Judd, but he was more than a friend – he was a consistent reminder to me of something his work has always represented, which is that it’s never wrong to speak the truth. Thank you so much Judd. I love you.”
Dunham’s essay appeared in her book, Not That Kind of Girl, which was released in September 2014.
“When I was raped, I felt powerless,” Dunham said in April at Variety‘s Power of Women luncheon in New York City. “As a feminist and as 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.”
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As for Apatow, the 47-year-old producer/writer/director told PEOPLE he was “glad” to be at the event, though he remained humble about his own involvement. (He’s been incredibly vocal about the rape allegations against Bill Cosby.)
“It feels a little silly because there are people at the Rape Treatment Center who are doing such amazing work every day, all day, helping people,” Apatow told PEOPLE. “I’m just angrily Tweeting in the middle. But I’m happy to do anything that calls attention to them and supports their work because I think they help thousands of people in very impactful ways, so I’m glad to be here.”