Lena Dunham: Writing About My Rape 'Was Never About Exposing' My Assailant

The author and Girls star speaks out about her decision to share her experience with sexual assault

Photo: Penguin Random House

Lena Dunham has responded to threats of a legal action from a former Oberlin student who says that he is having to defend himself against assumptions that he sexually assaulted her.

“Speaking out was never about exposing the man who assaulted me,” the Girls actress said in a lengthy post on Buzzfeed. “Rather, it was about exposing my shame, letting it dry out in the sun.”

In her book, Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham describes her rape at the hands of “Barry,” a “mustachioed campus Republican” who went to school with her. The name, her publisher says, is a pseudonym. Problem is, there’s an actual Barry who attended Oberlin and fits that description.

The real Barry has since threatened to sue the actress for defamation. In response, Random House added a disclaimer to the book stating the name was merely a pseudonym and offered to pay any legal fees that Barry may have incurred.

Dunham went on to clarify that she never sought to bring her rapist to justice: “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,” she wrote. “That is my choice.”

She did apologize for any confusion over the name. “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,” she wrote. “I am sorry about all he has experienced.”

The actress, 28, previously defended herself against accusations that she molested her sister based on a story in her book.

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