Why I kept quiet about being raped as a teenager

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Padma Lakshmi has said she was afraid to tell family or friends about being raped when she was a teenager.

The 48-year-old US author, actress and TV host wrote in the New York Times that her then boyfriend, a man seven years her senior, sexually assaulted her while she was asleep in his apartment.

She was 16 at the time and had never had sex before.

The Indian-born star said fear and confusion – including an absence of language 30 years ago to describe what date rape was – prevented her from speaking out.

“I didn’t report it. Not to my mother, not to my friends and certainly not to the police,” she wrote. “At first I was in shock.”

She added: “Soon I began to feel that it was my fault. We had no language in the 1980s for date rape.

“I imagined that adults would say: ‘What the hell were you doing in his apartment? Why were you dating someone so much older?’

“I don’t think I classified it as rape – or even sex – in my head.”

Ms Lakshmi’s piece was written in response to women who have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting them while they were teenagers.

President Trump has dismissed the accusations against his nominee, arguing that if the assaults did took place the victims would have filed police reports years ago.

“I understand why both women would keep this information to themselves for so many years, without involving the police,” Ms Lakshmi wrote.

“For years, I did the same thing.”

Earlier experiences of sexual assault while she was a child had already eroded her sense of control over her own body and right to speak up about abuse, Ms Lakshmi wrote.

She said: “These experiences have affected me and my ability to trust. It took me decades to talk about this with intimate partners and a therapist.”

Women including comedian Samantha Bee and writer Jessica Valenti tweeted in support of Ms Lakshmi.

There has also been a hashtag on Twitter #WhyIDidntReport, where women have recounted why it took them many years to talk about their attacks.

Brett Kavanaugh, who is Donald Trump’s nominee for the US Supreme Court, has appeared on Fox News to deny allegations of sexual assault, levelled by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.

The allegations against him date back to the 1980s.

Ms Blasey Ford, a university professor, claimed Mr Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, placed his hand over her mouth and molested her at a high school party in 1982.

Deborah Ramirez has said the nominee exposed himself to her at a drunken dormitory party.

The allegations have prompted Democrats to call for further action regarding Mr Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation.


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