In an op-ed written for the New York Times, Padma Lakshmi revealed her story of sexual assault which she experienced at the age of 16. The host of Top Chef explained in her short essay why she chose not to speak to the police.
In the piece, she suggested her readers would want to know whether or not she had been drinking or not, or if she had been “ambiguous” about her desires.
However, the reality star explained, none of the aforementioned details are important. Her essay echoed sentiments often made by feminists and assault survivors, who charge that society “blames the victim,” by suggesting women’s clothing, behavior, or choice of language played a role in their victimization.
Padma said that she and her 23-year-old boyfriend at the time went to several parties together, and she was tired, so she laid in the bed and fell asleep.
She woke to find her boyfriend on top of her, raping her. He explained his actions as an attempt to not have her experience any pain during her first time having intercourse.
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Padma pleaded for him not to do it, and “the pain was excruciating;” her “tears felt like fear.” He said to her following the rape, “I thought it would hurt less if you were asleep.”
According to the Top Chef host, she had absorbed “certain lessons” of the time, but only recently came to understand that what had happened to her was, in fact, rape.
Additionally, she spoke of being assaulted by her step-father’s relative when she was 7-years-old. When she informed her parents, they sent her to live in India with her grandparents. Lakshmi, in the closing remarks of her article, urged for survivors to tell their stories of sexual assault, so “codes of silence” don’t permit men to abuse women with “impunity.”