Padma Lakshmi opens up about overcoming trauma of sexual abuse
The abuse happened when she was seven years old; she was living in a small 2-bedroom apartment with her mom, stepdad, and a friend of her stepdad in Queens, New York
"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."
Following the release of her memoir entitled ‘Love, Loss and What We Ate’, TV host/Actress Padma Lakshmi has opened up about a deeply personal childhood trauma.
The abuse happened when she was seven years old; she was living in a small 2-bedroom apartment with her mom, stepdad, and a friend of her stepdad in Queens, New York.
There were times that she would sleep in the same bed as her stepdad’s friend, which she describes as “a state of affairs that, to people like us, who were used to living far too many to an apartment in India, seemed relatively normal.”
“One night,” she writes, “I woke up to his 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.”
Her mother noticed something was wrong when she urinated on her bed sheets as a sign of distress.
When her mother told Padma’s stepfather, he made her lie down “to demonstrate by pantomime what had happened.”
The next thing she knew, she was on a flight back to India.
“In retrospect however, he should have been the one to go,” writes Padma. “Years later, in tears, my mother would acknowledge this grave mistake.”
Overcoming trauma, providing inspiration
“It’s not something I think about that much anymore,” she says, “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.”
Still, she hopes her story can help others. “I think of all those girls I pass on the street who are in elementary school,” she says. “I think about my daughter’s classmates or my daughter. It happens more than we think.”
“Every time I go to JFK, I can see my apartment with the graffiti on the brick and I wonder what girl is living there and what her life is like,” she says. “It was by no means on the scale of what many little girls and boys go through but it did happen.”
Padma’s overcome a lot to get to where she is. The successful TV host/producer/actress remains grateful that, as much as there have been struggles, her life has been laden with ‘miracles’.
She was diagnosed with endometriosis when she was 36 years old, which led doctors to believe that she would never have kids.
Now, she is the mom of a happy, energetic little girl, 5-year-old named Krishna. She considers Krishna her ‘little miracle’.
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