Best-selling author Jessica Knoll reveals she was gang-raped as a teen like the protagonist of her novel
Best-selling author Jessica Knoll has revealed she was gang-raped by three boys when she was a teenager.She wrote about the ordeal in an emotional essay published in Lena Dunham's newsletter,Lenny Letter, on Tuesday.
Knoll, who is now in her thirties, said she and the protagonist of her novel Luckiest Girl Alive, Ani, share a similar past.The book, which came out in May and has since been optioned by Reese Witherspoon, talks about TifAni FaNelli (Ani), a 28-year-old magazine writer who remains haunted after being gang-raped while a freshman in high school.Knoll, a former editor at Cosmopolitan who was also 28 when she wrote the book, hinted at her past in the book's dedication.It reads: 'To all the TifAni FaNellis of the world, I know.'
Knoll revealed on Tuesday that Ani's fate was not 'inspiration' but had in fact derived from her own past.In her essay, titled Why I'm Telling The Truth About My Rape, Knoll recalled being raped by three boys at a party, before she was 'old enough to drive'.
She said she liked one of them, whom she called A Boy in the essay.
Knoll said she woke up the next morning and saw a bare back, which belonged to a third boy, whom she didn't like.'He laughed about how hungover he was, how crazy the party had been, how the reason I couldn’t find my underwear was because it was downstairs,' she wrote.
She described going to get the morning-after pill and being called 'a slut' by classmates.Knoll confronted A Boy about her rape once but later apologized to him out of fear the boys would go after her again.'I apologized to my rapist for calling him a rapist. What a thing to live with,' she wrote
She said she went into survivor mode and waited until the end of high school to reinvent herself.But Knoll, who has been married for three years, now believes the way to heal is to tell the truth about what happened to her.She had previously disclosed the truth to only one reader, the day she pitched her Lenny Letter essay.
A woman approached Knoll at a book signing in New Jersey, asking if Knoll had interviewed a rape victim as her account of the even felt so real.Knoll told her something similar to Ani's experience had happened to her. Dunham, who has written about being raped as a college student in her 2014 memoir Not That Kinda Girl, said in Tuesday's newsletter: ''I take tremendous comfort in imagining an alternate universe in which 20-year-old me reads this essay, is able to identify herself as a victim of sexual assault, and saves herself years of self-laceration.'Dozens of readers praised her essay on Twitter on Tuesday morning, calling it brave, important and breathtaking.Knoll told one of them: 'I feel proud to talk about this which I never thought I would say.'