American President Donald Trump’s tweet questioning why didn’t Christine Blasey Ford immediately report being sexually assaulted has inspired the trending hashtag ‘WhyIDidntReport’ on social media. In the light of this event, model and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi stated that she understands why sexual crimes do not get reported as she herself never reported that she was raped at the age of 16!
In an opinion piece published on Tuesday by The New York Times, Padma Lakshmi wrote, “I have been turning that incident over in my head throughout the past week, as two women have come forward to detail accusations against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.”
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
She continued stating that the alleged incident happened while she was dating a man she met at the Puente Hills Mall in a Los Angeles suburb.
“But I understand why both women would keep this information to themselves for so many years, without involving the police(referring to Christine Blasey Ford). For years, I did the same thing.”
While writing about her rape incident, Padma answered the unasked questions.
She said she wasn’t drunk and was wearing decent long-sleeved, black Betsey Johnson maxi dress that revealed only her shoulders. After attending couple of parties party, Padma, 16, and her then boyfriend, 23, went back to his apartment and the teenager tiredly was laying on the bed and promptly fell asleep.
“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.
The pain was excruciating, and as he continued and my tears felt like fear.”
Afterward, he said, “I thought it would hurt less if you were asleep.” Then he drove me home.
Padma Lakshmi did not report the crime to anyone. However, Padma Lakshmi spoke to her mother about an incident on the returning home and went asleep hoping to forget that night like a bad dream.
In the days that followed Padma blamed herself for what happened to her. She tried pushing back the memory of that night because she had learned one lesson in her childhood:
If you speak up, you will be cast out.
The Top Chef host went on to write about the time when she was molested at the age 7. After letting her stepfather and mother know that a relative had touched her ‘between her legs’ and put her hand on ‘his erect penis’ –they sent Padma to India for a year to live with her grandparents.
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
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) September 21, 2018
According to Padma these experiences have affected her ability to trust. Furthermore, it took her decades to open up to her intimate partners and therapist.
However, Padma feels if she would have spoken about her rape earlier, she would have suffered less, “I think if I had at the time named what happened to me as rape — and told others — I might have suffered less. Looking back, I now think I let my rapist off the hook and I let my 16-year-old self down.”
Lakshmi said she has advised her 8-year-old daughter to speak up if anyone touches her or makes her feel uncomfortable.
“I have nothing to gain by talking about this,” Lakshmi wrote. “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.”