In an essay for the New York Times, Padma Lakshmi has revealed that she was raped when she was 16 years old. Lakshmi, the host and executive producer of Top Chef, detailed being assaulted by an older boyfriend one New Year’s Eve. “While we were talking, I was so tired that I lay on the bed and 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,” Lakshmi recalls in the essay. “I asked, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘It will only hurt for a while.’ ‘Please don’t do this,’ I screamed.” Lakshmi says she didn’t tell anyone about the assault.
Lakshmi has spoken about being sexually abused as a child, but said that she decided to share this story because of the sexual-assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Lakshmi says she didn’t report the rape because she was ashamed and internalized her fear. “I didn’t report it. Not to my mother, not to my friends and certainly not to the police. At first I was in shock,” she wrote, adding that she regrets not feeling confident enough to call the assault a rape. “Some say a man shouldn’t pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager,” Lakshmi wrote. “But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her.”