- 27 Sep 18
Author, model, and TV star Padma Lakshmi, who was once married to Salman Rushdie – who dedicated his novel Fury to her – has told how she was raped when she was 16-years-old.
Speaking from her own experience, Padma says: "I understand why a woman would wait years to disclose a sexual assault."
Padma Lakshmi, who is probably best known to many TV viewers for being a judge/host on Top Chef, has revealed that she was a young teenage virgin when she was raped by a 23-year-old man that she'd met when working in a mall store in LA.
After they began dating for four months, he took her to a New Year's Eve party and raped her while she was asleep. Padma Lakshmi insists that she was "tired" and "not drunk" when the horrific attack occurred.
In an an op-ed for the New York Times, the 48-year-old Padma wrote: "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. Afterward, he said, ‘I thought it would hurt less if you were asleep.’ Then he drove me home.”
I wrote an Op-Ed for @nytimes about something terrible that happened to me in my youth, something that happens to young women every day. We all have an opportunity to change the narrative and believe survivors. https://t.co/pqFt50t4R1
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) September 25, 2018
Padma was afraid to report the incident and went home, "hoping to forget that night.” But she now feels she “let my 16-year-old self down” by not reporting her then boyfriend to the cops.
“Some say a man shouldn’t pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager,” she writes. “But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her.”
She explained that a previous scary incident made her afraid to report it. When she was just seven-years-old one of stepfather’s relatives “touched me between my legs and put my hand on his erect penis”. And when she reported it to her mother and stepfather, she was immediately sent to India for a year to live with grandparents. “The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out,” she explained.
She adds: "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.”
Reflecting on her ordeal of being raped, Padma also wrote: “I don’t think I classified it as rape — or even sex — in my head." She later pretended to other boyfriends that she was still a virgin. “I lied to them — I said I was still a virgin. Emotionally, I still was,” she wrote.
Padma says it took her “decades” before she was eventually able to feel comfortable enough to talk about this “with intimate partners and a therapist.”