- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lena Dunham is firing back at critics who have accused her of lying about an alleged rape by a college Republican, arguing that her depiction of the assault in her memoir “had ambiguities and gray areas” much like her actual experience.

“It has been almost a decade since I was sexually assaulted,” the actress wrote in a lengthy essay for Buzzfeed. “When I finally decided to share my story, it had ambiguities and gray areas, because that’s what I experienced, because that’s what so many of us have experienced.”

In “Not That Kind of Girl,” Ms. Dunham, 27, described an unwanted sexual encounter with a mustachioed Oberlin College Republican named Barry, in which she said she was drunk, high on Xanax and cocaine, and in no condition to consent to sex.

Since the memoir’s publication, a man identified as “Barry One,” who loosely fit Ms. Dunham’s description came forward and threatened legal action. Random House issued a statement Tuesday that exonerated Barry One and for the first time claimed the “Barry” in the book is a pseudonym. Ms. Dunham confirmed that claim.

“‘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. I am sorry about all he has experienced,” she said. “Speaking out was never about exposing the man who assaulted me. Rather, it was about exposing my shame, letting it dry out in the sun. 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. That is my choice.”

“Barry One” responded with a statement to Breitbart News thanking the author for clearing his name.

Ms. Dunham then turned her attention to the skeptics who dared to fact-check her allegations, and then suggested that the best way to support a victim of rape is to say, “I believe you.”

“I was not naive enough to believe the essay in my book would be met with pure empathy or wild applause,” she wrote. “But I hoped beyond hope that the sensitive nature of the event would be honored, and that no one would attempt to reopen these wounds or deepen my trauma. But this did not prove to be the case. I have had my character and credibility questioned at every turn. I have been attacked online with violent and misogynistic language. Reporters have attempted to uncover the identity of my attacker despite my sincerest attempts to protect this information. My work has been torn apart in an attempt to prove I am a liar, or worse, a deviant myself.

“I have been made to feel, on multiple occasions, as though I am to blame for what happened. But I don’t believe I am to blame,” Ms. Dunham continued. “I don’t believe any of us who have been raped and/or assaulted are to blame. … Survivors have the right to tell their stories, to take back control after the ultimate loss of control. There is no right way to survive rape and there is no right way to be a victim. What survivors need more than anything is to be supported, whether they choose to pursue a criminal investigation or to rebuild their world on their own terms.”

“You can help by never defining a survivor by what has been taken from her. You can help by saying I believe you,” she concluded.

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