Padma Lakshmi penned an emotional piece in which she opened up about how she was sexually assaulted when she was a teenager and kept silent about it at the time, the Bravo's Top Chef host revealed in an opinion piece for The New York Times. "I understand why a woman would wait years to disclose a sexual assault," she wrote about the incident.
Padma revealed that she was raped at 16 by a 23-year-old man she had been dating for a few months, but never reported it or told anyone because she was in shock and ashamed.
"I think if I had at the time named what happened to me as rape — and told others — I might have suffered less," she reflected in the piece, noting she was still a virgin at the time of the incident. "Looking back, I now think I let my rapist off the hook and I let my 16-year-old self down."
Now, she has cautioned her eight-year-old daughter Krishna Dell, “If anybody touches you in your privates or makes you feel uncomfortable, you yell loud. You get out of there and tell somebody. Nobody is allowed to put their hands on you. Your body is yours.”
It took her "decades" to talk about the rape, but now she hopes that sharing her story will help others.
"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 explained.
"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," Padma shared on Twitter. "We all have an opportunity to change the narrative and believe survivors."
Before publishing the op-ed on September 25, Padma revealed three different sexual assaults that happened to her in her youth via three Twitter posts on September 21.
"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," she then Tweeted.
"The third time I was assaulted I was 23," she continued in a third message. "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."