Padma Lakshmi Reflects on Childhood Molestation: ‘It Was a Loss of Innocence’
Actress Padma Lakshmi recently opened up about being molested during her childhood while promoting her new memoir "Love, Loss, And What We Ate.”
Padma was molested at the age of 7 at the apartment she shared with her mom, stepfather, and a family friend. She revealed in her memoir, “One night, I woke up to [the friend's hand] in my underpants. He took my hand and placed it inside his briefs. I don't know how many times it happened before, since I suspect I slept through some incidents.”
Lakshmi told EW and People editorial director Jess Cagle, "Something happened to me that happens to a lot of girls everywhere. I think my mother wanted to put distance between me and the relative who was living with us who was inappropriate with me. I didn't understand it then.”
She added, "Once you take a girl's innocence, you can never get it back. What I remember more is telling my mother what happened and her believing me and then she and I telling someone else that it happened and that person not believing me. And then the next week, I was sent to India."
Lakshmi also explained why she was discussing the sexual abuse she experienced. "I wanted to talk about it because if women like me don't talk about it, who will? I think of all those girls I pass on the street who are in elementary school. I think about my daughter's classmates or my daughter. It happens. It happens a lot. It happens more than we think. It happens to seven out of 10 girls or women at some point in some way in their lives.”
She elaborated, "It's not something I think about that much anymore, but it was the catalyst for a lot of things. It was the catalyst for my mother's divorce, for me going to India. It was the catalyst for me being different about my body and just less open in the world. It was a loss of innocence in a way. What happened to me was not even that bad compared to what happens to many young girls and boys. But it was something that happened. I didn't want to dwell on it."