Padma Lakshmi pens NYT essay on being raped at 16: 'I have nothing to gain by talking about this'

Amid an ongoing discussion about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Padma Lakshmi put pen to paper to publicly detail the rape she kept quiet until now.

In a revealing opinion piece for the New York Times, Lakshmi reflects on being raped by a 23-year-old man when she was a virgin at 16. The two had been seeing each other for a few months when the incident occurred.

"When we went out, he would park the car and come in and sit on our couch and talk to my mother. He never brought me home late on a school night," Lakshmi recalls of the early days of the relationship. "We were intimate to a point, but he knew that I was a virgin and that I was unsure of when I would be ready to have sex."

After a few months of courtship, the two were hanging out on New Year's Eve when she 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 writes, adding that she verbally protested and told him to stop. "Afterward, he said, 'I thought it would hurt less if you were asleep.' Then he drove me home."

Padma Lakshmi through her career
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Padma Lakshmi through her career
276138 12: Model Padma Lakshmi stands at the premiere of 'Trainspotting' July 15, 1996 in New York City. This British film received a 1997 Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Liaison)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 01: Padma Lakshmi (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Model Padma Lakshmi attends The Hours New York City Premiere on December 15, 2002 at Paris Theater in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Padma Lakshmi and Vikram Chatwal during the cookbook launch for Lakshmi's 'Easy Exotic' book at Chez es Saada, New York, New York, 1999. (Photo by Rose Hartman/Getty Images)
Indian model Padma Lakshmi and Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie. (Photo by Dave Allocca/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Indian model Padma Lakshmi. (Photo by Dave Allocca/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
398637 09: Model Padma Lakshmi Vaidyanathan arrives at the premiere of the film 'Lord of the Rings' at the Ziegfeld Theater December 13, 2001 in New York. The film opens nationwide on December 19, 2001. (Photo by Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images)
Model Padma Lakshmi backstage at the Luca Luca Spring 2003 fashion show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Bryant Park in New York City. September 18, 2002. Photo by Evan Agostini/ImageDirect
Padma Lakshmi (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Padma Lakshmi (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
Padma Lakshmi (Photo by Djamilla Rosa Cochran/WireImage)
Actress and model Padma Lakshmi at the premiere of 'No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.' (Photo by Steve Azzara/Corbis via Getty Images)
Padma Lakshmi during The 2006 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Annual Gala - Red Carpet at Cipriani in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - DECEMBER 1, 2007: Padma Lakshmi and Amjad Ali Khan during the launch of 'Lend Your Voice For Aids' Campaign to Combat HIV/AIDS in New Delhi on Saturday.(Photo by Sunil Saxena/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 24: Padma Lakshmi attends the New York premiere 'Australia' at the Ziegfeld theater on November 24, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - DECEMBER 6: Padma Lakshmi attends THE CINEMA SOCIETY & BING host a screening of 'A SINGLE MAN' at MoMA on December 6, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by DAVID X PRUTTING/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Episode 10037 -- Pictured: (l-r) Padma Lakshmi -- (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: TV personality Padma Lakshmi attends the Keep A Child Alive's Black Ball Redux 2012 at The Apollo Theater on December 6, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: TV personality Padma Lakshmi attends the PowerWomen 2013 awards on November 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10: Padma Lakshmi attends the Valentino Sala Bianca 945 Event on December 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: Chef Padma Lakshmi attend the 11th Annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball at Cipriani Wall Street on December 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Event host Padma Lakshmi attends the 2016 United Nations Development Programme Global Goals Gala at Phillips on December 5, 2016 in New York (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Padma Lakshmi and The Judges of Bravo's 'Top Chef' In conversation at 92nd Street Y on November 28, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Padma Lakshmi attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Padma Lakshmi attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: Padma Lakshmi attends Variety and Women In Film's 2018 Pre-Emmy celebration held at Cecconi's on September 15, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Padma Lakshmi attends the 2018 Creative Arts Emmys Day 2 at Microsoft Theater on September 9, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

While she notes that it "doesn't matter" one way or the other, Lakshmi notes that she was not drunk and was not wearing revealing clothing. She did not report the incident to family, friends or authorities: "That evening, I let my mother know when I was home, then went to sleep, hoping to forget that night."

Lakshmi also mentions being molested by an adult male family member at 7 years old. After Lakshmi told her mother and stepfather about it, she was sent to live in India with relatives for a year as punishment.

In reference to Kavanaugh, who is accused by three women of sexual assault, Lakshmi writes, "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."

Read her full essay in the New York Times here.

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