Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi said in a New York Times op-ed published Tuesday that she was raped by her boyfriend as a teenager, and was compelled to break her silence on the issue after politicians wondered why two women accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct didn’t report it sooner.
Lakshmi said she was inspired by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez to come forward about what happened to her. The incidents allegedly involving Kavanaugh occurred when he was in high school and college.
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied all of the allegations made against him.
“On Friday, President Trump tweeted that if what Dr. Ford said was true, she would have filed a police report years ago. But I understand why both women would keep this information to themselves for so many years, without involving the police,” Lakshmi wrote.
“For years, I did the same thing.”
“I was 7 the first time I was sexually assaulted. He was a relative of my mom’s second husband. I told my folks and they sent me away. #WhyIDidntReport,” she wrote.
“The second time I was 16 years old and a virgin. He was my boyfriend. ‘Date rape’ wasn’t discussed in the 80’s. I was horrified and ashamed. #WhyIDidntReport. The third time I was assaulted I was 23. I thought that no one would believe me, because no one wanted to stand up to him. I had seen the way Anita Hill was treated when she came forward. #WhyIDidntReport.”
In the Times, Lakshmi describes being raped by her boyfriend when she was 16 years old, writing that she fell asleep on his bed and woke up “to a very sharp stabbing pain like a knife blade between my legs.”
“He was on top of me,” she wrote. “I asked, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘It will only hurt for a while.’ ‘Please don’t do this,’ I screamed.”
Lakshmi said after she was assaulted, her boyfriend told her, “I thought it would hurt less if you were asleep.”
“I didn’t report it. Not to my mother, not to my friends and certainly not to the police,” Lakshmi wrote. “At first I was in shock. That evening, I let my mother know when I was home, then went to sleep, hoping to forget that night.”
According to Lakshmi, she decided to share her story now because “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.”
“I am speaking now because I want us all to fight so that our daughters never know this fear and shame and our sons know that girls’ bodies do not exist for their pleasure and that abuse has grave consequences,” Lakshmi said.
“Those messages should be very clear as we consider whom we appoint to make decisions on the highest court of our land,” she said.