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Padma Lakshmi reveals she was date-raped when she was a teen and kept quiet about it

"Soon I began to feel that it was my fault. We had no language in the 1980s for date rape," the "Top Chef" host wrote in a powerful op-ed.

Padma Lakshmi arrives at the Billboard Music Awards

Padma Lakshmi arrives at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on  May 20. Photo Credit: AP / Invision / Jordan Strauss

Author and "Top Chef" host/executive producer Padma Lakshmi has expanded on her recent revelation that at 16 she was date-raped, something which she has never before publicly disclosed.

"I didn't report it. Not to my mother, not to my friends and certainly not to the police," Lakshmi, 48, wrote Tuesday in a New York Times essay, explaining, "At first I was in shock" but that, "Soon I began to feel that it was my fault. We had no language in the 1980s for date rape."

She had become sleepy, she wrote, being out with her 23-year-old boyfriend and returning to his apartment. "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 . . . 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."

On Friday, Lakshmi reiterated a revelation from her 2016 memoir, "Love, Loss and What We Ate,” tweeting, "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 then revealed in subsequent tweets, "The second time I was 16 years old and a virgin. He was my boyfriend. . . . 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" during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearing in 1991.

Lakshmi, born in India and raised in the United States, explained in the op-ed that the incident when she was 7 taught her "certain lessons" about the danger of reporting sexual abuse. "Shortly after I told my mother and stepfather," she wrote, "they sent me to India for a year to live with my grandparents. The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out."

Now the mother of an 8-year-old daughter, Lakshmi added, "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."

Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Elizabeth Banks each tweeted thanks to Lakshmi for the editorial.

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