I was raped at 16, sexually abused at 7: Padma Lakshmi

In the wake of #MeToo, Indian-American TV show host and author Padma Lakshmi recently shared her horrific experience of sexual harassment. The 48-year-old model penned the details in a The New York Times op-ed, stating that she was raped at the age of 16 but never spoke up about it.

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She wrote, “When I was 16 years old, I started dating a guy I met at a mall. I worked there after school at the accessories counter and he worked at a high-end men’s store. He would wear a gray silk suit and flirt with me. He was 23, in college and I thought he was charming and handsome.”Lakshmi added that he made sure to not keep her out late on a week night and would often visit her mother as well. She continued that he was aware of the fact that she wasn’t comfortable being too intimate but only after a few months of dating, he raped her on New Year’s Eve.PHOTO: FASHION GONE ROUGEThe model stated that she had been drinking alcohol the night she was raped but was not drunk. Lakshmi was at her boyfriend’s apartment when she fell asleep because she was tired. She woke up to an excruciating pain and found him forcing himself on her.The same night, Lakshmi returned home and didn’t speak to anyone about it for years. The Top Chef host added, “Soon I began to feel that it was my fault. But when I think about it now, I realise that by the time of this rape, I had already absorbed certain lessons. My stepfather touched me inappropriately when I was seven years old. And 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.”PHOTO: HAUTE LIVINGLakshmi said that these experiences affected her ability to trust people and that it took her a long time to open up to her partners and her therapist. She stated, “Some say a man shouldn’t pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager. But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her.”The Easy Exotic author continued that she feels that she let her rapist “off the hook” and disappointed her 16-year-old self. But being a mother of an eight-year-old daughter has taught her a lot.PHOTO: AWAKE SMILE“For years I’ve been telling her the simplest and most obvious words that took much of my life to understand: If anybody touches you inappropriately or makes you feel uncomfortable, you yell loud. You get out of there and tell somebody,” she affirmed.

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Lakshmi concluded that she’s opened up of her experience after 32 years of the incident only so that no more generations are silenced. She wants to raise awareness for young girls all across the world to speak up whenever someone makes them uncomfortable.

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