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."
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."
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.