Lena Dunham gave an emotional speech about her sexual assault at Variety‘s Power of Women luncheon on Friday while promoting GEMS.

Lena Dunham Says Rape Made Her Feel “Powerless”

Dunham, 28, was awarded Variety’s Power of Women award for her work with GEMS – Girls Educational & Mentoring Services on Friday, April 24, at the New York luncheon. Speaking about her work with GEMS, an organization devoted to helping survivors of sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking, Dunham opened up about her own rape and surviving sexual assault.

Dunham recounted how her rape made her feel “powerless,” a feeling she sees in the women and girls who are survivors of sex trafficking.

“When I was raped I felt powerless. I felt my value had been determined by someone else. Someone who sent me the message that my body was not my own, and my choices were meaningless. It took years to recognize my personal worth was not tied to my assault; the voices telling me I deserved this were phantoms, they were liars. So as a feminist, 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,” Dunham promised.


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Dunham also touched on being a feminist, admitting she is in no way a “perfect feminist.” In fact, Dunham admitted that she, herself, has underestimated the importance of language in the past. But, the Girls creator said, her work with GEMS has helped her understand the true power of words and language used to describe women.

“We look at youth in the commercial sex industry in America as willing participants in their own victimization, ignoring the disenfranchisement that comes from being poor, from being a child, from being a girl of color, from being a homeless LGBT youth, from being a kid in foster care. We ignore what it must be like to be bought and sold by adult men, to spend your adolescent believing that this is what you are worth, that your voice doesn’t matter, that you have no power,” Dunham stated.

Dunham’s emotional speech was just one of many delivered at the luncheon. Fellow honorees Kim Kardashian West, Glenn Close and Rachel Weisz also spoke at the event on a variety of issues, including mental illness and education.

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