Padma Lakshmi Bravely Tells Her Sexual Assault Story & Explains Why She Never Reported Her Rape

Padma Lakshmi is speaking out about her experience being raped at the age of 16 by her boyfriend at the time, who was 23 years old.

The Top Chef host wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, explaining her experience and why she never brought the rape to the police.

“You may want to know if I had been drinking on the night of my rape. It doesn’t matter, but I was not drunk. Maybe you will want to know what I was wearing or if I had been ambiguous about my desires. It still doesn’t matter, but I was wearing a long-sleeved, black Betsey Johnson maxi dress that revealed only my shoulders,” Padma wrote. “The two of us had gone to a couple of parties. Afterward, we went to his apartment. While we were talking, I was so tired that I lay on the bed and fell asleep.”

She continued, “The next thing I remember is waking up to a very sharp stabbing pain like a knife blade between my legs. He was on top of me. I asked, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘It will only hurt for a while.’ ‘Please don’t do this,’ I screamed,” she continued. “The pain was excruciating, and as he continued, my tears felt like fear. Afterward, he said, ‘I thought it would hurt less if you were asleep.’ Then he drove me home.”

Padma then added, “When I think about it now, I realize that by the time of this rape, I had already absorbed certain lessons. When I was 7 years old, my stepfather’s relative touched me between my legs and put my hand on his erect penis. Shortly after I told my mother and stepfather, they sent me to India for a year to live with my grandparents. The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out.”

“Now, 32 years after my rape, I am stating publicly what happened. I have nothing to gain by talking about this. But we all have a lot to lose if we put a time limit on telling the truth about sexual assault and if we hold on to the codes of silence that for generations have allowed men to hurt women with impunity,” she added.

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